PRESS RELEASE from Public Health England

Change4Life Sugar Swaps roadshow to visit Bristol this weekend 

Event aims to highlight simple sugar swaps parents can make to their family’s diet

The Change4Life roadshow is set to visit Cabot Circus this weekend on Sunday 1 February to raise awareness of the high levels of sugar families consume every day, and to offer parents practical advice on how to cut down on sugar consumption by making one or more simple swaps.

While guidelines state that no more than 10% of a person’s daily energy or calorie intake should be made up of sugar[i], at present, children aged 4-10 years are consuming up to 50% more than this[ii].

Eating and drinking too much sugar means extra calories, which causes fat to build up inside the body. This can lead to heart disease, some cancers or type 2 diabetes later in life.

Recently published data highlights that approximately one in five children aged 4-5 years old and one in three children aged 10-11 years old is overweight or obese[iii].

Sugar can also have a devastating impact upon dental health, an integral part of overall health. Tooth decay was the most common reason for hospital admissions for children aged five to nine in 2012-13. 28% of 5 year olds in England have tooth decay and of these, 24% have five or more teeth affected[iv].

Furthermore, a new survey amongst Netmums users found that nearly half (47%) of mums surveyed think their family has too much sugar in their diets[v] and two thirds of mums (67%) are worried about the amount of sugar their children consume.5

Mark Patterson, Health and Wellbeing Programme Leader for the Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Public Health England Centre said:

“Reducing sugar intake is important for the health of our children both now and in the future. We are all eating too much sugar and the impact this has on our health is evident.

“This campaign is about taking small steps to address this. We know from past campaigns that making simple swaps works and makes a real difference. This year we wanted to be even more single minded in our approach, which is why we are focusing on sugar alone.

“The family challenge highlights that simple swaps could lead to big changes if sustained over time and we’d urge parents in Bristol to come along to the Sugar Swaps roadshow this weekend, learn more about Sugar Swaps and sign up for their free pack full of swap suggestions.”

The Change4Life Sugar Swaps roadshow will consist of a number of interactive, fun and informative activities to teach families about the swaps; including:

  • Kitchen zone: A fun zone for all the family which reveals the surprising amount of sugar in food and drinks that kids have at different times of the day, such as at breakfast and after school.
  • The Funny Face photo board: A place where visitors can be photographed in funny poses and encouraged to put their photos across social media.
  • Sign Up Zone: An area where families can register for their FREE Sugar Swaps packs. The packs are filled with hints, tips and recipe suggestions, plus money-off vouchers, swap cards and stickers.

Change4Life recommends four simple Sugar Swaps to choose from, tackling different ‘sugar occasions’ in the day:

  • The Breakfast Swap: sugary cereal for plain cereal e.g. wholewheat biscuit cereal
  • The Drink Swap: e.g. from sugary drinks to sugar-free or no-added-sugar drinks
  • The After School Swap: for example from muffins to fruited teacake
  • The Pudding Swap: for example from ice cream to low-fat lower-sugar yoghurt.


[i]Department of Health (1991). Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom Report of the Panel on Dietary Reference Values of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy. Report on Health and Social Subjects 41. London. HMSO.

[ii] Department of Health (1991). Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom Report of the Panel on Dietary Reference Values of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy. Report on Health and Social Subjects 41. London. HMSO.

[iii] National Child Measurement Programme 2014

[iv] National Dental Epidemiology Programme for England: oral health survey of five year old children 2012.

[v] Online survey conducted with 687 parents of children aged 5-11 & 1720 parents of children of all ages, October 2104

Steve-Rowlands-2014_WEBDecember – The news themes they aren’t a changing

As it is now December the ‘Mo’ has gone leaving a pleasantly bald top lip. I had some interesting comments regarding the appendage while it was with me, some of which achieved the intended purpose of highlighting men’s health. Perhaps the most damaging was from a member of staff who, in the last week of November, stopped me, stared at me and said: “I bet you can’t wait for December!”

Interesting health issues coming out in the news.

The Secretary of State turning up at an A&E department with an unwell child on a Sunday afternoon, and somehow attempting to defend his corner, despite previously encouraging the public that doing just that was not the appropriate use of A&E facilities.

NICE telling us that we need to carry out more bariatric surgery, as we are all about to become diabetic because we are too fat.

Professor Roger Williams is telling us that we all need liver scans because we drink too much alcohol and we are too fat, and as mentioned in my last blog, the NHS is going to be bankrupt because we are too fat.

There seems to be a bit of a theme here… ‘We are too fat’.

Dieting alone cannot possibly work because if it did none of us would be overweight and there would only be one diet book in print instead of the thousands currently present in any bookshop you walk into. There is no doubt that people on strict diets lose weight but it is also clear that there is a rebound weight increase when they stop, and this type of ‘Yo-Yo’ weight management is detrimental to overall health. The other problem with dieting is that you are constantly thinking about food and, inevitably, constantly hungry, which makes success in sustaining your diet nigh on impossible.

Personally, I have the appetite of a horse and find I can only maintain a reasonable weight by following Michael Mosley’s 5:2 diet. I have been doing so since September 2012 and find it easy to maintain. Happily, I can report that my weight is now stable after an initial loss of over a stone.

However the real solution to any weight problem is lifestyle: eating smaller portions, not grazing between meals and taking appropriate exercise.

To me, as a GP, it’s very clear. If you are too fat you need to lose weight; the state does not need to lose weight for you.

Another item in the news this week: It is safer for healthy women to have babies in a midwife led unit or at home according to a NICE report.

Low risk Mums to be ie those with straightforward pregnancies, and (interestingly) those who have a BMI of less than 30, are better off in maternity led units.

Another good reason to keep that weight down.



Friday the 14th November was World Diabetes Day, which was set up by Diabetes UK to encourage everyone across the world to unite and take action to tackle diabetes.

I have a personal interest in diabetes, having a strong family history of it.

Diabetes is a common lifelong health condition, where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. There are two main types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 diabetes is a risk factor that you can’t do anything about (after all, you can’t chose your genetic mum and dad!), however there are plenty things that we can do to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to function properly, or if the body’s cells don’t react to insulin. This is known as insulin resistance.

Type 2 diabetes is far more common than Type 1, which occurs when the body doesn’t produce any insulin at all. In the UK, about 90% of all adults with diabetes have Type 2.

So what can we all do to stop ourselves becoming a diabetic statistic?

It is really, really simple: we exercise, we control our weight, we don’t drink too much alcohol and we eat the right foods.

So why is it that we are seeing a rise in the incidence of diabetes? (It is predicted that there will 4.6 million diabetics in the UK by 2030.)

The answer is clearly much more complicated than I have told you. But is it? Or are we just not listening to the messages that we are being given? Personally, I think it is the latter.

The easy option is to carry on as we are and to face the future by burying our heads in the sand in the hope that it will never happen. Sadly, it will happen to many of us unless we do something now.

The main risk factor for Type 2 diabetes is being overweight and this is where we all need to take personal responsibility.

Interestingly there was a report on the radio this morning (20 November), and in the news, stating that obesity is currently costing this country £47 billion a year: a staggering amount of money.

When the Five Year Forward View was announced in October this year, the chief executive of the NHS, Simon Stevens, told us that, if we carry on as we are, by 2021 NHS funding faces a shortfall of £30 billion.

So, to me it’s a no brainer: we all need to control our weight. Not only will we be healthier but we’ll be wealthier as well.

I’m off for a game of tennis.


The Diabetes Bus will be out and about in Wiltshire over the coming days. Members of the public are invited to come along and get tested to see if you are at risk of diabetes.

The Bus is available at the following places between 9am and 5pm:

Tuesday, October 28: Pewsey (Pewsey Market, Outside Bouverie Hall)
Wednesday, October 29: Amesbury (Car park, SP4 7DR)
Thursday, October 30: Bradford on Avon (Station Car park, BA15 1DQ)
Friday, October 31: Calne (Sainsbury’s car park, The Pippin, SN11 8JG)
Saturday, November 1: Salisbury (Market Square, Guildhall, SP1 1TL)

The bus is part of the Healthy Lifestyle campaign, which is being organised by the CCG, Wiltshire Council and Diabetes UK.

Dr Steve Rowlands, Chairman of Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is a great opportunity to work with our colleagues at Wiltshire Council as we are all only too aware of the increasing impact that diabetes is having on our communities and by taking our messages on the road we aim to increase people’s awareness of this condition to enable them to take positive lifestyle actions.”