Campaign urges Blackpool pupils to give up loving pop

Helen Kellett (right), Oral Health Educator from Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s Community Dental Service, promotes the GULP campaign to pupils and staff at St Mary’s Catholic Academy

Students across Blackpool are being encouraged to ditch sugary pop for healthy swaps.

Running for the second year, Blackpool Council’s Give up Loving Pop (Gulp) campaign is encouraging Blackpool students to take part in a 21 day challenge to give up sugary drinks with the hope that they will switch to healthier drinks such as low fat milk for good.

11-18 year olds are the biggest consumers of sugary drinks. Young people drink almost a bath full of sugary drinks every year and 46% of 15 year olds now have tooth decay.

Figures released in 2015 from Public Health England (PHE) showed that children aged between 4-18 were getting 30% of their sugar intake from sugary drinks.

As a result of this, 40% of the town’s 10 and 11 year olds are classed as overweight according to the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP).

The Gulp campaign aims to tackle excessive sugary intake in a bid to stop them developing potential multiple health complications including: heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The challenge, which runs from March 10-31, was relaunched at St Mary’s Catholic Academy, Blackpool and will be followed by more ‘Gulp’ roadshow information sessions in other local academies.

St Mary’s students heard from Helen Kellett, Oral Health Educator from Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s Community Dental Service and Kathryn Evans, Specialist Practitioner, who showed them how many sugar cubes were in their favourite drinks and explained the health risks.

As a result, many students are looking to take on the 21 day challenge to Give up Loving Pop including Katie Keelan, who said: “I didn’t realise how much sugar was in the different drinks. I will definitely be drinking less in the future.”

Jacob Sainsbury was surprised at the facts, commenting: “It was weird to see how many sugar cubes are in a bottle of fizzy drink. I just didn’t know. I am going to take up the challenge.”

Students were tasked with binning high sugar drinks such as energy drinks, fizzy pop and fruit juices, and drink water, lower fat milks and no added sugar drinks instead.

Simon Mitchell, St Mary’s PSHE Co-ordinator, said:  “We wanted our students to rethink how much sugar they are consuming in drinks. Sugary drinks offer no nutritional value and aren’t necessary for a healthy diet. In fact they can lead to poor health. Today has been very informative and we are delighted that there has been such a positive response from students.”

Councillor Amy Cross, Cabinet Member for Reducing Health Inequalities and Adult Safeguarding at Blackpool Council, said: “This campaign focuses on educating young people in Blackpool to help them make more informed decisions.

“The results from a survey conducted following the last Gulp campaign showed that the number of people who preferred to drink low sugar rather than high sugar drinks had almost doubled. There was also a 30 per cent drop in the number of people who had previously stated that they ‘often’ bought drinks with a high sugar content.

“Responses also indicated that there was a greater understanding of the health risk. To show my support this year I will also be taking up the Gulp challenge this month.”

To encourage students and others to come on board there’s also a chance to win Sandcastle Waterpark passes.

To take part Blackpool Council is asking young people to take a ‘healthy selfie’ and put a photo of themselves drinking a healthy drink on Instagram using #GulpChallenge. Then fill in a pledge to Give Up Loving Pop online at

The competition is open to under 18s only.

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