Fizzy drinks have become a staple in so many children’s diets. These drinks provide 29% of sugar in children’s diets aged (11-18).

Over more recent years we’ve really started to understand the implications that a high consumption of these drinks can have on our children’s overall health. It’s no secret that in the UK we’re struggling with a childhood obesity problem. Whilst Fizz-Free February is partly an effort to tackle this it’s also about so much more than obesity.

We know that sugar consumed in sugar sweetened (SSBs) are likely to cause spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels which can lead to an increased appetite due to the affect that sugar has on appetite related hormones and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Excess sugar consumption can also lead to poor dental health and disruptions in gut microbiome.

But what about the diet versions we hear you asking?

In diet versions of SSBs the sugar has been replaced with artificial sweeteners. There are a few reasons why suggest keeping these to a minimum too:

  1. Appetite regulation: some research suggests that although these sweeteners are low in calories they may stimulate hunger related appetite hormones which can lead to over eating later on in the day.
  2. Neurological function: as artificial sweeteners are relatively new to town we are unsure of the effects they may have on our neurological function later on in life. Some studies suggest that an over-consumption of these sweeteners may increase our risk of neurological diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
  3. Gut microbiome: you’re likely not surprised to hear about the importance of the gut on our overall health. In recent years science has evolved to suggest that the gut plays so much more of a greater role than just in our digestion. The gut (also termed as the second brain) is associated with appetite regulation, weight management, sleep and skin health to name a few. As a result it’s really important that we look after it and support it where we can!

So now you’ve got some context into why we are supporting Fizz-Free February we wanted to provide you with some top tips to help you, help your children to reduce their intakes of SSBs throughout February. Here are our top tips:

  1. Opt for infused water – buying your child a water bottle with a built in infuser can really help them to become a little more excited about drinking water. You can switch up the fruit/ vegetable/ herb easy day to ensure that they have a new drink every day. We suggest getting your child involved in picking what they want their water to taste off as this can help with their enthusiasm!
  2. Make your own SSBs – maybe your child likes the combination of the fruity flavour and the gassy drink. Why not try adding a splash of orange juice to some sparkling water as a healthier alternative.
  3. Adopt a points system – children love points and rewards – why not offer them a gold star sticker for every day they go fizz free and then at the end of the week or the month treat them with something they enjoy (it could be a baking session, a trip to the park or a day out – avoid using food here).
  4. Get creative – encourage your children to move away from fizzy drinks by letting them get experimental in the kitchen. Why not try out different smoothie recipes to really get them excited about consuming more fruits and vegetables.
  5. Certificate – Sugar Smart have a fizz free February certificate on their website for you to download and give to your children at the end of the month… Who doesn’t appreciate some recognition for their hard work?!

There you have our top tips for a successful Fizz- Free February. Remember it’s not about focusing on what they can’t have but more about playing around with what they can… Oh and we’d also recommend that you join them in the challenge… What’s the harm?