Fizz Free February Campaign Urges People to Give Up Sugary Drinks

Public Domain. MaxPixel – Could you go without for 28 days?

One month is just long enough to break a habit that is seriously compromising your health.

A British campaign called Fizz Free February is urging people to give up sugary beverages for 28 days, starting on February 1st. The campaign was first launched in 2018 by Southwark Council, but is gaining traction this year with support from celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and the Labour Party's deputy leader Tom Watson, both of whom have improved their own health and lost weight by cutting down on sugar.

Kids in the UK eat three times more sugar than they should, and fizzy drinks are the single largest source of sugar for kids between 11 and 18, making up an estimated 22 percent of their total sugar intake.

The daily recommended maximum is 30 grams for adults, 24 grams for children between 7 and 10, and 19 grams for children aged 4 to 6. (TreeHugger's Christine Lepisto has an easy trick for figuring out how much sugar you're getting. Divide the number of grams by 4 to get the number of teaspoons in a serving. Women should have no more than 6 teaspoons daily and men nine.)

The Fizz Free Campaign says that if sugar consumption levels were reduced by half, we'd see big improvements in public health. It would help people to lose weight; right now two-thirds of British adults and 34 percent of children leaving primary school are overweight or obese. "Drinking just one 330ml can of fizzy drink a day could add up to over a stone [14 lbs] weight gain per year."

It would reduce levels of tooth decay. Currently dental extractions are at an all-time high in the UK. The Guardian writes,

"It is estimated that every 10 minutes a child in the UK has a tooth removed because of preventable tooth decay, and 23 percent of all five-year-olds in England have at least one decayed, missing or filled tooth."

If everyone consumed half of the maximum daily level of sugar, it would save the NHS £500 million (US$658 million) annually. Four thousand early deaths could be averted and more than 200,000 cases of tooth decay eliminated. It could also save households money – up to £438 (US$576) if one bottle of soda were cut out every day for a year.

Watson says the campaign is "not just about saving younger people from health problems but also about fighting back against corporations that profit from children’s high sugar consumption." As we all know, childhood is when habits are formed and it's much harder to shake these as one ages; that's why it is so important to establish healthy dietary habits from a young age.

You can learn more and sign the Fizz Free February pledge here. Share your successes on social media using the hashtag #gofizzfree.