Sugar Smart City!

by - October 14, 2015

The Sugar Smart City Campaign

9% of adults have diabetes and 1 in 4 kids leave school overweight. Sugar is destroying teeth, leading to lost limbs via amputation, loss of feeling, weight gain and more.

Last night I attended a Youth Council Debate - organised by Brighton & Hove City Council in collaboration with Jamie Oliver's Food Foundation held at the beautiful Jamie's Italian. Brighton is aiming to become the first #sugarsmartcity with London up next. It's a tough one but I have full confidence in Brighton, the city that welcomes change, that welcomes new beginnings and that, historically, was seen as a 'health resort' which so appealed to King George IV*

Jamie Oliver is currently campaigning to introduce a tax on sugary drinks in the UK, just 7p on each can of coke, which would generate 1 billion pounds per year which could then be used to support preventative strategies for the NHS and schools around childhood obesity and diseases. Click here to sign the petition. 

On the panel were a range of people from industry professionals including a GP & mother, a head teacher, restaurant manager, food writer, oral health nurse & community nutritionist. The audience was a mix of young people from schools and youth councils as well as parents who kept the questions firing at the panel and raised a number of key points, the most prominent being:

Most people don't eat dessert with every meal. Certainly not with lunch. Why, then, do we have a need for school dinners to have pudding every day for lunch?

Would it be possible to introduce some sort of monitor on the amount of sugar children eat at school? A suggestion, from a student, was that products could be scanned with the sugar content tallying up so that the parent could check, remotely via a website, the child's intake that day and subsequently avoid giving them more sugar at home later on if they'd already had a particularly sugary day etc?

Why would young people be inclined to spend £8+ on a salad when they could easily go to fast food chains and get a 'meal deal' including a drink for under £5. 

Why should all people have to pay tax on sugary drinks when some people are more 'reckless' with it than others?

Snacks should not be allowed to use the description 'healthy' if they are highly sugary. Such as cereal bars, breakfast bars, dried fruit etc.

What are your thoughts? Join the sugar debate on Twitter using the hashtag #SugarSmartCity

The debate generated a lot of questions of my own, such as:

We are becoming more aware of the implications high sugar consumption has on our physical health, but what about our mental health?

Leisure centres - Bowlplex, Laser Zone, Cineworld and Odeon, all leisure centres aimed at children as well as adults, only supply sugar laden food. Sweet popcorn, 'skinny popcorn', pick n mix, sugary drinks and high-carb low GI food - all guaranteed to raise blood sugar levels. Fruit juice is an option but fruit juice provides only a little less sugar than coca cola and cannot and should not be seen as a healthy option. When are we going to see a reduction of the sweet stuff on sale and more of the good stuff? 

Vending Machines - vending machines are everywhere, in schools, hospitals, leisure centres, anywhere they'll fit! When can we start seeing snacks that are genuinely good for you. The King Alfred in Brighton has one which I'd be happy eating every single snack from, as opposed to the one at my work which boasts nothing healthy. No a flapjack is not healthy! Nor are chocolate raisins! or that Kellogg's bar! Terrible!

Mini coke cans - Coca Cola contains obscene amounts of sugar. Whatever happened to those mini coke cans? They were so cute! As well as being a much better portion size if you are going to drink the kryptonite.
Are people thinking enough about the effect sugar has on mental health?

In my own personal experience, I went to see someone as I was experiencing eczema as well as other symptoms. So, I paid someone £65 to tell me I have too much yeast in my body, a result of excess consumption of sugar and fermented things such as cheese, bread, mushrooms and even nuts. I immediately thought of alcohol. We forget as adults how much sugar alcohol contains and if you look into it, it's extortionate. She put me on a very restrictive diet for 5 weeks where I had to eliminate sugar completely - so no biscuits, chocolates, cakes, anything refined, white bread, brown bread, any bread, beer, wine, cider, any alcohol that wasn't vodka or gin, sugary drinks, cheese, pickles, vinegar, mushrooms, grapes, nuts and only allowed 2 pieces of fruit a day - due to it's high sugar content.

The results were great, I lost half a stone in the first 3 days which was great but what surprised me the most was the elated mood, despite not being allowed some of my favourite foods! It was a very comfortable month (women, take note) and I had no mood swings or irritability whatsoever. I can attribute this to the absence of sugar and after having further researched the relationship between sugar and hormones I've seen there are clear links. Sugar consumption wreaks havoc on your hormone balance.

After the 5 weeks I slowly went back to certain foods and drinks and got a little carried away and complacent with it but I'm currently doing Sober October (abstaining from alcohol for the month) and again, I feel great without all the sugar that alcohol brings and can feel my clothes loosening too!

So, sugar can effect your physical health and, as I've found, your mental health but it can also effect you at a superficial level too - it's like taking a chisel to your collagen - it will age you faster through dehydration and making you more vulnerable to sun damage. Click here to read more on that. 

Take Action Today!

If you are a parent, there are many ways you can fix up snacks and foods for your children that they will love. Check out my apple crisps by clicking here.

Or click here for my Mexican Chocolate Mousse (paleo) - it contains honey, avocado, coconut milk and cocoa powder :)

Don't forget to sign that petition! And click HERE for Jamie's tips and recipe ideas to reduce your sugar intake.

How do you feel about sugar? What can we do to change our city into a sugar smart city? join the debate at #SugarSmartCity on Twitter and leave me a comment or send me an email at

You can also complete the sugar survey here and have a chance of winning loads of great prizes including meals out at Healthy Choice food outlets such as Moshimo and Ice Berger, session vouchers from Freedom Leisure, goody bags from Active for Life, signed copies of Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food and more.

A big big thank you to everyone at Jamie's Italian for the delicious food yesterday - here's a snap of the antipasti we were offered. It was incredible, as always.

*Now, George did get reaaaally fat so let's not use him too much as an example!

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