Healthy Conversations and Making Every Contact Count

Dietitians Week 2018

Dietitians Week takes place from 4–8 June 2018, and the theme this year is ‘Dietitians do Prevention’

The aim of the week is to highlight the fantastic work that all dietitians do to prevent illness or optimise health, be that in primary care or acute settings, industry or education.

The focus of 8 June is Healthy Conversations and Making Every Contact Count.

Making every contact count: How can we be more #SugarSmart?

By Dr Clare Pettinger (Registered Public Health Dietitian and Manager of Plymouth Sugar Smart campaign)

The context of our ‘sugar crisis’ is clear: Some people eat as many as 40 teaspoons of sugar every day (more than six times the recommended daily allowance). For the first time in human history the world has more people that are overweight than underweight.

Worldwide there are more than 42 million children under the age of 5 who are either overweight or obese – 1 in 4 children enter primary school obese or overweight; 1 in 3 children enter secondary school obese or overweight. Children today are the first generation predicted to live shorter lives than their parents because of diet and inactivity. Over 15% of children under three years of age have some dental decay, with tooth extractions being the largest cause of admissions to hospital in 5-9 year olds.

In Plymouth specifically, children’s obesity levels are similar to other areas in England: 10% of children aged 4-5years and 16% of children aged 10-11 are classified as obese. Over 848 (in 2015/16) children aged 0-16 years had teeth removed under general anaesthetic, which is a high rate of child tooth extraction. This follows a clear deprivation gradient and tackling oral health is one of the four themes of the local Child Poverty Action Plan. There is an urgent need for action, so our #PlymouthSugarSmart campaign (run via Food Plymouth CIC and funded by a Sustain/Sustainable Food Cities Sugar Smart Grant *) got off the ground in September 2017 to support the city to become more Sugar Smart.

Since the start of the campaign in Sept 2017, the city has engaged in a wide range of Sugar Smart activities, by partners including Plymouth Argyle Football Club, Plymouth Life Centre, Livewell SW, Public Health, City Youth Council, Devon and Cornwall Police, University of Plymouth, CaterEd (School meals service) and the local workplace wellbeing forum.

For more info see @SugarSmartPlymouth #SugarSmartPlymouth

The Plymouth Sugar Smart campaign aims to:

1. Raise awareness and increase understanding amongst Plymouth communities and organisations about the detrimental effects of excess sugar

2. Support and encourage local organisations to create a more ‘Sugar Smart’ mind-set and food environment and sign a pledge of commitment

The approach taken by the campaign has been a ‘train the trainer’ ambassador programme, whereby volunteer champions have been trained in simple #SugarSmart messages to cascade these to relevant organisations, communities and individuals across the city. To date over 30 ambassadors have been trained, including a good number of dietetic students. This approach is in line with ‘making every contact count’ - an approach to behaviour change that utilises the millions of day to day interactions that organisations and people have with other people to encourage changes in behaviour, in this case sugar consumption, that will lead towards a positive effect on the health and wellbeing of communities.

One of the key highlights this year during the campaign has been the enthusiasm demonstrated by Scott College (a small specialist mainstream school in Plymouth) whose year 9 students participated in a Sugar Awareness curricular activity, which was followed by a shared learning activity with University of Plymouth first year dietetic students around sugar.

**SUGAR SMART is a national campaign of the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and Sustain. It helps local authorities, organisations, workplaces and individuals to reduce sugar consumption. Anyone can pledge to become SUGAR SMART – from councils and schools to restaurants, hospitals and independent companies.

Sugar awareness

Pupils from Scott College in Plymouth discuss what they've learnt about sugar, from our average consumption to the amount of sugar contained in different food and drinks.