Children and young people across Merton are being encouraged to give up fizzy drinks this month to reduce their sugar intake.
Merton Council is supporting Fizz Free February, which was pioneered by Southwark Council, to tackle obesity and tooth decay among children and young people.
The council’s public health team are raising awareness of the campaign at a stand in the Civic Centre this week.
Consuming too much sugar can result in a child gaining weight, which increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, some cancers and tooth decay.
In Merton, one in every five children starting primary school is overweight or obese and this increases to one in three pupils starting secondary school.
Eating too much sugar can also be very harmful for children’s teeth. Almost a quarter of children (22.5%) in Merton have one or more decayed, missing or filled teeth by the age of five and, for children aged between five and nine-years-old, tooth decay is the most common reason for admission to hospital.
Merton Council’s Member for Health, Councillor Tobin Byers said: “A fizzy drink can contain up to seven teaspoons of sugar, which is almost twice the total maximum recommended amount a young child should consume in a day, so pledging to go fizz free is an easy way to cut down sugar intake.
“We are encouraging children and young people to swap fizzy drinks for water, low fat milk or other drinks which contain no added sugar. As well as helping to prevent tooth decay, this simple change can stop children putting on weight which can increase their risk of developing serious illnesses when they are older.”
To join in, just complete the online pledge to give up fizzy drinks for 28 days and use the #GoFizzFree hashtag on Twitter.