Lewisham council is collaborating with outdoor advertising companies JCDecaux UK and Outsmart to combat obesity in children with The Sugar Smart campaign.
It will use posters and designs created by the community to advertise and promote Childhood Obesity Trialblazer initiatives and raise awareness of local health campaigns.
Worldwide, more than 45 million children under the age of five are considered overweight or obese. According to The Royal College of Paediatric Health and Child health (RCPH), almost 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese when they start primary school, rising to 1 in 3 when they start secondary school.
This initiative stemmed from the pioneering Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme, which has been active across many councils nationwide. This programme in particular is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care and administered by the Local Government Association.
In the form of billboards displayed in select locations around the borough, the Sugar Smart campaign is supporting local businesses and organisations in providing healthier food and drink options.
Chancellor Chris Best, Deputy Mayor of Lewisham said: We know that advertising is a very powerful influence on what we all eat and especially children. Lewisham was also the first London borough to sign up to the Sugar Smart campaign. This campaign has seen many local businesses, restaurants, and schools sign up to offer low-sugar, healthier alternatives. Childhood obesity is at the top of our agenda in Lewisham, we will all be keeping a close eye on the results.”
Jamie Oliver previously endorsed Sugar Smart with a Channel 4 documentary in collaboration with Sugar Smart in 2016. The documentary pointed out the addictiveness of sugar and the danger of schools mostly providing sugary foods.
Vicki Stead, year one teacher at St Mary’s Lewisham Church of England Primary School, said: “Obesity is certainly affecting children from a young age, but more so in areas like Lewisham. Nutritious food is expensive, and for some children; the only place this can be provided is in a school lunch. It’s so important that we can deliver more than chips and cake.”
The Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme supports this: “There is a ‘deprivation gap’ with children from the most deprived areas who are more than twice as likely to be obese and more than four times as likely to be severely obese than children from the least deprived areas.”