Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Barnsley bans sugary drinks in 'sugar-free borough' bid

Sugar cubes and drinks Image copyright Anthony Devlin/PA wire
Image caption Barnsley Council staff said the hardest lifestyle change to make was food habits

Sugary drinks have been barred from sale at Barnsley Council in a bid to make the town a "sugar-free borough".

The authority launched its food strategy after its public health department identified smoking, excessive drinking and poor diet as major problems for the town.

Council staff said food habits were the "most challenging" things to change.

A full food plan is expected to be adopted by the authority later in the year.

As well as cutting out full-sugar drinks from sale and removing vending machines from council buildings, the cafe at the council's Westgate Plaza headquarters now gives a calorific value on its sandwiches, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

The council is working with prospective tenants of the new Market Food Hall, which is currently under construction, with the aim of introducing similar labels.

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Takeaways are being encouraged to offer healthier meal choices and to introduce simple measures like salt shakers with smaller holes, or healthier fats for frying.

Diane Lee, head of public health, said the authority wants Barnsley to become a "sugar-free town."

She said: "Our long-term goal is for all food sold to have its calories displayed, every sandwich in every shop.

"That's a long way off, but it's about giving people the information to lower their sugar and calorie intake."

Image copyright Steve fareham/geograph
Image caption Barnsley Council's headquarters at Westgate Plaza no longer sells sugary drinks

The council said Barnsley has fewer overweight children than the national average, and public health staff will monitor future results in the hope that it is the start of a positive trend.

Work is being done to maximise school meals' nutritional value and to address "holiday hunger", when children from impoverished backgrounds do not get a good diet once school dinners stop for the holidays.

The town has already adopted a scheme to give weekly healthy food vouchers to families.

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