UWE Bristol joins city-wide drive to reduce sugar consumption

Issue date: 01 February 2017

Students at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) will be encouraged to shun sugar as part of the city's Sugar Smart programme.

Initiatives aimed at guiding students towards low sugar or sugar-free alternatives will be introduced this week as the university joins the Bristol-wide push to reduce sugar consumption organised in partnership with the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.

Learners will notice changes in the Students' Union shop and catering outlets, with bottled water available at half price and discounted zero-sugar soft drinks filling the most prominent shelves. Apples will be given away with some meals and reduced-sugar pots of porridge will be handed out to students free of charge at all campuses during February. A promotional campaign video, fronted by Jamie Oliver, will be beamed into campus buildings and the Students' Union bar on large screens.

Health psychology students will stage an awareness-raising day on campus, where they will hand out low-sugar recipes and fruit, as well running a contest in which they will be inviting peers and staff to guess the sugar content of various food and drinks products.

The Sugar Smart campaign was launched earlier this month as a collaboration between the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, Bristol City Council, Bristol Sport, UWE Bristol and other local organisations.

The new programme, led by the council's public health team, will help people recognise how much sugar is in their food so they can make more-informed choices. It was launched following input from Bristol's Youth Council, which recently debated the merits of a city-wide health campaign, and will aim to help tackle the city's poor oral health and obesity crisis.

Lizzie Johnson, Health and Wellbeing Coordinator at UWE Bristol, said: “Our aim at UWE Bristol is to raise awareness and educate about sugar content whilst promoting healthier options that are available. Getting our students and staff into the habit of reading labels, especially on products that you would normally consider to be healthy, and swapping our sweet snacks and fizzy drinks will all go a long way to reducing our sugar and improving our health.”

Becoming more sugar smart could help Bristolians feel better as recent data shows that 57 per cent of adults and over a third of Year 6 children in the city are now above a healthy weight, and a quarter of five year olds in Bristol have tooth decay.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “Rising obesity levels and dental problems are two major contributing factors to health inequalities in Bristol and we know that eating too much sugar plays a major role in this. Throughout the year we're going to be partnering with a wide range of different organisations as we can make a greater impact by working together. Having organisations such as Bristol Sport and UWE Bristol on board will help us to reach different audiences and it is essential that the whole of Bristol benefits from this. If we can improve our health, we can become more resilient whilst also reducing the pressure on public purses.”

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