20 Jan 2015

Smart Swaps mean healthy habits for families in Leeds

Recent data suggests that over 13 per cent of Leeds children in their last year at primary school are overweight.

The new Change4Life campaign launched by Public Health England is getting an extra push in Leeds as families are encouraged to make easy swaps from unhealthy snacks and healthy ones.

Leeds has been one of the top performing areas in recent Smart Swap campaigns, and the efforts being made by individuals and families around the city will pay dividends for years to come, believes Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Chair of the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board.

Cllr Mulherin said:

“A healthy diet can make a big difference to a whole range of short and long term health issues. From the impact of sugar on teeth, to excess sugar causing fat to build up inside the body, with potential consequences like heart disease, some cancers, or type 2 diabetes later in life, there’s a lot to be gained by watching what we eat and drink.”

“In Leeds we are using the idea of swapping to have a Smart Swapathon to encourage people to make swaps to reduce fat, salt and sugar from everyday foods and to think about ways to be more active this New Year. The work Emma and the Smart Swaps team are doing makes it easier for us all to make our diet and our children’s diet healthier.”

Emma Strachan, Health Improvement Specialist with Leeds City Council’s Public Health team, said:

“The Smart Swapathon is a great chance to discuss healthy swaps, whether that is in your home, organisation, school or workplace. Have a chat about making small changes to what we eat or do over the six week campaign from 19th January – 27th February.

“We want to record the number of swaps made in Leeds over the campaign, so are encouraging everyone to register to support the Smart Swapathon at www.leedsletschange.co.uk/smartswaps .

“All swaps are entered on the main web page totalizer to record our city total. There’s also lots of information and advice about ideas for swaps. There are lots of prizes available offered on a lottery basis for organisations who upload swaps to the website. Once you login to the website using your username and password the website is animated so it’s really fun to see all your swaps enter the totalizer – why not have a look and see?”

The Leeds Smart Swapathon is part of the national Change4Life campaign.

Picture: Tarragon Wager from Richmond Primary School supporting the 2014 Smart Swaps

For further information contact:

Phil Morcom

Communications team

Leeds City Council

4th Floor West, Civic Hall, Leeds, LS1 1UR

Mobile: 07891 276270

Tel: 0113 224 3602


Notes for editors:

• Consuming food and drink high in sugar means extra calories which causes fat to build up inside, that could lead to heart disease, cancer or type 2 diabetes

• By the time they leave primary school, one in three children are carrying excess weight

• Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop illnesses such as type 2 diabetes , go onto experience weight and health problems in adolescence, and are more likely to become overweight or obese adults

• Consumption of foods high in sugar can lead to tooth decay

• In 2012, almost one-third of five year olds in England had tooth decay with stark inequalities across the country

• There is a need for clear advice for parents. Almost one in five children aged 4-5 years is overweight or obese, rising to one in three children aged 10-11 years.7 Children’s sugar consumption, as a percentage of energy intake, is up to 50% greater than the current SACN recommendation. Soft drinks contribute 17% of sugar intake amongst 4-10 year olds and 30% of sugar intake amongst teenagers

• All you need to do is to sign up to make one easy swap to cut back on sugar – like swapping sugary drinks to water, lower-fat milks or sugar free, diet, no added sugar drinks

• Once you’ve signed up, you’ll receive a fantastic Sugar Swaps pack with ideas for how to cut back on sugar plus money-off vouchers, swap cards, stickers and emails and texts packed with recipes and ideas to help you make healthier changes (subject to availability)

• Your free pack contains inspiration, hints, tips and recipe ideas to help you and your family reduce your daily sugar intake at key points in the day such as breakfast, puddings, drinks and after school snacks

• To sign up to Sugar Swaps, simply search Change4Life online and register for your free pack which will be sent to you in the post

Ideas for swapping:

• Drinks swap

Swap fizzy drinks, sugary drinks or sugary squash to water, lower-fat milks, sugar free, no added sugar or diet drinks

• Breakfast swap

Swap sugary cereal to plain cereal such as plain porridge, plain wholewheat biscuits or plain shredded whole grain

• After school snack swap

Swap sugary snacks such as muffins, cakes, croissants or pastries, biscuits, chocolate, cereal bars, sugary breakfast cereal, puddings and sweets to fruit - fresh or tinned (in juice), fruit salad - fresh or tinned (in juice), cut up vegetables such as carrot or cucumber sticks, plains rice cakes, toast or bagel with low-fat spreads or reduced fat hummus, plain wholewheat biscuits, breakfast cereals, plain unsalted nuts or fruited tea cake

• Pudding swap

Swap chilled desserts, puddings, cakes, ice cream or yoghurt to fruit - fresh or tinned (in juice), fruit salad - fresh or tinned (in juice), low-fat, lower sugar yoghurt or sugar-free jelly

• Take time to explain to your kids that too much sugar is bad for their health and for their teeth. Get them to choose which sugar swaps they want to make. Help them to keep track of their sugar swaps and see how many they can make in a week

• Be a role-model. Kids will copy you so if they see you eating and drinking healthier things they will too

• You do the shopping and decide what they have but give them some choice by offering options for healthier alternatives so they feel involved

Breakfast swap

• If you’re having a little trouble swapping to plain cereal you could start by mixing a little sugary cereal with the plain and increase the plain a little each day until you’ve totally swapped – and you probably won’t even notice!

• When you’re shopping, look for breakfast cereals that have wholegrains and that are lower in sugar, salt and fat levels. And why not try semi-skimmed, 1% or fully skimmed milk as well (though remember 1% or fully skimmed milks are not suitable for children under 5.)

• When serving up the new plain cereal, try adding different fruit – like raspberries or blueberries and low-fat, lower sugar yoghurt

Drinks swap

• Pour a healthier drink into a cup or glass and they may not notice it’s different to the more sugary one they’re used to

• You could start your swaps by buying smaller sizes and swapping some of your usual sugary drinks to sugar free or no added sugar drinks

• When you or your kids want a fizzy drink, try sparkling water poured over lots of ice and served with a wedge of lime or lemon. Add a couple of straws and it should go down refreshingly well!

• For a super weekend treat, why not blend a banana with some ice cubes and cold semi-skimmed milk, then sprinkle the top with cinnamon – scrummy!

After school swap

• Try not to use sugary snacks, sweets and chocolate as rewards. Try other rewards such as stickers, playing their favourite game, trips to the park or a visit to a friend.

• Get your kids involved in preparing healthier snacks and simple recipes (see page http://www.nhs.uk/change4life/Pages/meal-planner-recipe-finder.aspx for child-friendly ideas) they are more likely to eat it if they’ve helped prepared it!

• Although we don’t like to say ‘no’ to our kids, sometimes it is kinder – it’s like saying ‘I care about you and your health’. But you can still do something to shows how much you love them – like going to the park or playing a game with them.

• Of course, cutting out sugary snacks is great, but it doesn’t have to be a total ban. Once you are on your way to giving healthier snacks, you could let your child pick a favourite sweet snack once a week. But you may find they actually start preferring the healthier snacks anyway as time goes by!

• Keep dried fruit for meal times only because it is high in sugar and can cause tooth decay!

Healthier Puds

• Remember to give your children ‘me sized’ puds because we don’t all need to eat the same amount of food – and children need less than adults

• Cutting down on sugar doesn’t mean no more puds! Apple and blackberry crumble is easy to make without much sugar. Serve with a dollop of low-fat, lower sugar yoghurt sprinkled with cinnamon and enjoy!

• One way to cut back on sugar when you are shopping is to look at the nutritional colour coded front of pack labels and go for more greens and ambers and fewer reds

For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team