What should be done to help everyone eat and drink more healthily in Oxfordshire? Should free drinking water be more readily available in cafés? Should canteens offer healthier options? Should restaurants provide a traffic light system on drinks? Or maybe there’s nothing that needs to be done?

Complete The Great Sugar Debate Online Survey before January 2020 to Have Your Say and be in with a chance to win £25 of High Street Vouchers.

Click here to join Oxfordshire’s Great Sugar Debate

Now is the time for your organisation to fly the SUGAR SMART flag: If you run a café, canteen, restaurant or other type of caterer, sign your organisation up to the SUGAR SMART Oxfordshire campaign on the national SUGAR SMART dashboard: www.sugarsmartuk.org

The Golden Teaspoon Award

In 2018, ten flagship businesses received a “golden teaspoon” award for their SUGAR SMART commitments at a celebration event in Oxford’s Town Hall.

Each business had taken at least three actions to reduce sugar and make the healthy choice the easy choice:

  • Unipart Group – provide a traffic light system for drinks, ensure 2/3 of drinks are low sugar, run an annual SUGAR SMART day
  • The King’s Centre – increase the number of tap water stations, make 80% of drinks sugar free, reduce sugar in home-made cakes, provide free fruit for staff
  • Turl Street Kitchen – join Refill Oxford, increase the proportion of low sugar drinks, label sugary drinks on the menu
  • Town Hall Café (Lemon Zest) – provide a traffic light system for drinks, increase the proportion of low sugar drinks, offer a water refill station
  • Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – remove the most sugary drinks from sale, remove promotions and adverts, increase the number of healthier options
  • La Cucina Oxford – offer tutti frutti water to children, offer Sugar Swap desserts, train staff in SUGAR SMART choices
  • Rose Hill Primary School – consult with children and all on the most healthy delicious snacks, provide a low sugar tuck shop, run SUGAR SMART sessions to introduce the new tuck shop
  • Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford – provide a traffic light system for drinks, increase the price of sugary options, provide free fruit for staff
  • Jamie’s Italian – promote low sugar drinks prominently on the menu, show the number of teaspoons of sugar in drinks, offer healthier drinks for children
  • Fusion Lifestyle Leisure Centres, Oxford – provide floor stickers in front of vending machines which show sugar content of drinks, provide a traffic light system for drinks, offer self-service tap water stations across all leisure centres.

Also recognised at the event was Oxford City Council for signing the Local Authority Declaration on Healthier Food and Sugar Reduction, becoming the first Local Authority outside of London to do so, and committing to implement actions across six key categories.

Congratulations to them all!

The SUGAR SMART Oxford Campaign

The SUGAR SMART Oxford campaign was officially launched at the Kassam Stadium in November 2017. In the first GREAT SUGAR DEBATE in 2018, 665 people from Oxfordshire responded to the public consultation, 421 online and 244 via a postcard.

Of the 665 people who took part, 41% said they thought they had more than the recommended maximum amount of sugar per day, and a further 17% were not sure. A massive 92% thought young people had more than the recommended maximum amount of sugar per day.

65.6% were very concerned about the amount of sugar in our food and drinks66% were very concerned about the amount of sugar in our food and drinks and 30% were a bit concerned. Only 4% of people surveyed were not at all concerned.

In the online survey, 92% were worried about at least one health effect of sugar on themselves, with the most people (77%) concerned about its effect on their weight. Of the people concerned about child health issues, the issue of most concern was sugar’s effect on their children’s teeth (89%).

In order of popularity, the measures that people thought businesses should take were:

  1. Offer tap water as standard in cafes and canteens (62% of people agreed with this)
  2. Make healthier options more visible (52%)
  3. Traffic light ratings (red/yellow/green) on drinks (46%)
  4. Sugar Smart assemblies or debates in schools and colleges (44%)
  5. Limit the proportion of sugary drinks in cafés and canteens (41%)
  6. Display information about sugar in drinks in vending machines (38%)
  7. 10p ‘sugar tax’ on sugary drinks in cafés and canteens (36%)
  8. Individual challenges to cut out sugary drinks for a week (28%)

Only 1% of people who responded thought no action was needed at all in Oxford’s workplaces, cafés, canteens, leisure centres, schools and colleges.

In response to this public demand for action, Oxfordshire’s businesses are now being invited to takEmpty vending machinee action to make it easier for people to reduce their sugar consumption.

Information for businesses

Workplaces, cafés, canteens, restaurants, leisure centres, and so on can sign up to one or more of the SUGAR SMART business commitments:

  • Promote free tap water
  • Make healthier options more visible
  • Adopt a traffic light sticker system on canteen/café drinks menus
  • Make 80% of drinks offered sugar free
  • Display sugar content information on vending machines
  • Introduce a 10p sugar tax on sales of sugary drinks in canteens/cafés, to go to a children’s health fund

If they sign up to three or more commitments, their business will be awarded a SUGAR SMART Golden Teaspoon.

Schools and colleges are invited to take part, for instance by running assemblies, debates and individual challenges to cut out sugary drinks for a week. The focus of the campaign is sugary drinks but any healthy initiatives are really welcome.

Free resources for organisations, businesses and schools are available from the national SUGAR SMART dashboard www.sugarsmartuk.org where individuals can also sign up to support the campaign, for example by encouraging their workplace, local café or school to get involved.

Interested organisations, businesses and schools can also get support by emailing us at  mail@sugarsmartoxon.org

Why sugar?

SSbike radcliffe cameraMany of us are consuming too much sugar, and this is increasing levels of tooth decay, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

The recommended daily intake of free sugar* is a maximum of 7 teaspoons for adults and 5-6 teaspoons for children.

*Free Sugar is sugar added to food by the manufacturer or at home, as well as sugar naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices. It does not include sugar naturally present in milk, whole fruit and vegetables.

SS drinks infographicOne soft drink may be two to three times this amount – a 330ml can of soft drink may contain 9 teaspoons of sugar and a 500ml bottle of soft drink may contain 13 teaspoons of sugar.

In the UK, children are having three times as much sugar a day as the recommended amount. Adults are having twice as much.

Sugar Obesity StatsIn Oxford, a third of children have tooth decay (worse than the national average). A third of Year 6 children are overweight. And half of adults are overweight. We need to make it easier for people to choose healthy options, starting with sugar!

We’ve teamed up with the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, Sustain and Sustainable Food Cities and are working in partnership across the city to look at what we can all do at home, in schools, in work and in shops, restaurants, cafés, vending machines and takeaways.


For children and families: Find sugar facts, swaps and tips, and shop smart using the Change4Life Sugar Smart resources.
Download the free Change4Life Food Smart app to find out how much sugar is in the food and drink your family consume every day.

For adults: Find out about sugars in our diets, tips to cut down, and labelling information on the NHS Choices website.
You can also sign up for lots of free support, tips, ideas and recipes.

For schools and colleges: Use the SUGAR SMART Assembly format, SUGAR SMART school debate format, and SUGAR SMART individual challenge record, as well as the Change4Life Food Scanner app.

For organisations: You can find further resources on the Public Health Promotion Resource Unit webpage.

Who’s involved?

Sustainable Food City Logo Cyan SmallGood Food Oxford Logo rotatedA project of Good Food Oxford, Oxford City Council, Cherwell District Council, West Oxfordshire District Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council, Oxfordshire County Council, Community Dental Services Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Oxfordshire Workplace Wellbeing Network.

Find out more about Good Food Oxford.