Council calls on government for more action on obesity in wake of Fizz Free February campaign

1 March 2018

Southwark Council has called on government to adopt Fizz Free February as a national campaign next year, following the success of the local initiative in raising awareness about the impact of sugary diets.

Fizz Free February shone a light on how sugar and fizzy drinks contribute to an unhealthy diet and is just one example of how the council is working to combat obesity in the borough.

Obesity rates have been in decline over the past five years and Southwark Council remains committed to driving rates down further. Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Charity childhood obesity report highlights that Southwark is a borough with some of the highest rates of both childhood and adult obesity.

The campaign also stressed the impact that sugar has on teeth and led the British Dental Association among other industry experts backing our campaign. A campaign of this nature is much needed as in Southwark, approximately one-in-five 5 year-olds has tooth decay.

Cllr Maisie Anderson, Cabinet member for Public Health and Social Regeneration said: “Fizz Free February is just one of the innovative ways that we encourage residents to think about what they eat and drink. It has been great to see the amount of support our campaign has received and demonstrates that there is appetite for change when it comes to health.  I hope that the positive changes our residents have made this month last well beyond February 28.

“Of course, our work goes beyond awareness campaigns and we are delivering programmes that are making real changes to the health of our residents. I am proud of the work that we have already delivered and I know that across the council creating a healthy borough runs through everything we do.

“However, obesity is a national epidemic that no one local authority can solve on its own. We need government to set clear national targets for obesity reduction. The current national obesity strategy aims to “significantly reduce” levels of childhood obesity. The Government should identify a national target, for example to halve obesity by 2026 to 800,000 cases.

“Local authorities need more guarantees from Government when it comes to funding. The Government has pledged £1bn school sports funding by 2020 but there needs to be funding beyond this point. I urge the Government to maintain a prominent focus on children’s wellbeing and physical activity for future budgets.

“Obesity remains a top public health priority for Southwark and childhood obesity in particular, is a challenge that national and local government must face together.”

To combat obesity in the borough, Southwark has developed initiatives that help people work toward and maintain a healthy weight throughout all stages of life.  These initiatives span across the home, the built environment and schools, reflecting a truly whole-system approach.

The council has introduced free swim and gym for residents, joined UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Initiative and developed a weight management service.  Across the borough there are various outdoor gyms and there are numerous exercise programmes in our parks, which provide just a few ways residents can participate in regular physical activity in everyday life.

All Southwark primary school children receive free health school meals regardless of their family situation. This ensures all children have access to a heathy, balanced meal each school day and are taught the principles of healthy eating. For schools with the highest levels of excess weight in the borough, there is a menu of evidence-based and council-recommended programmes targeting physical activity, active travel, healthy eating and education.

Page last updated: 01 March 2018