Football Coaches help Children cut back on Sugary Drinks

Give Up Loving Pop Assembly

Football Coaches help Children cut back on Sugary Drinks

Results from the Give Up Loving Pop programme evaluation demonstrate effectiveness of community sports coaches delivering sugary drinks education to children.

In summer 2018, community coaches from three professional football clubs in North West England delivered a four-part sugary drinks education programme to over 900 Year 5 children, helping them to cut back on sugary drinks and drink more water.

Coaches from Accrington Stanley, Fleetwood Town and Preston North End delivered a range of classroom and playground-based activities educating children on looking after their teeth and gums, how to read nutrition labels on bottles and cans and the importance of hydration for attainment in school and performing well in sport. The project was commissioned by Lancashire County Council following rising rates of overweight and obesity and poor oral health in the region.

During the programme, coaches also challenged the children to Give Up Loving Pop for 21 days. On average, children achieved 16.1 days free of sugary drinks and 95% of participants achieved a minimum of 10 days drinking only water and milk – almost 50 years’ worth of sugary drink free days.

Give Up Loving Pop Coach

Rob Larcombe from Fleetwood Town Community Trust helps Year 5 children with the GULP Sugar Detectives activity at a school in Lanncashire

Effectiveness of Community Coaches

The evaluation report, produced alongside researchers from Liverpool John Moores University, also revealed a significant advantage of delivering GULP using community sports coaches.

Teachers noted that children really engaged with GULP due to the “the power of football” going on to say that delivery by Key Stage 2 teachers “wouldn’t have had as big an effect.”

Interestingly, coaches indicated that through their training on sugary drinks topics prior to delivery, their delivery of GULP was having a notable effect on the knowledge and attitudes of the children but also the teacher themselves. One coach noted that teachers “knowledge of sugary drinks and marketing techniques was very minimal”.

Classroom-based learning was bolstered by 30 minutes of physical activity in each session freeing coaches to deliver health education on oral health through various games and activities. Coaches at Preston North End modified dodgeball, with red balls representing high-sugar drinks and blue balls representing water, encouraging the children to think throughout the game about the negative impact of various drinks on their teeth.

Other results from the GULP KS2 programme include:

  • Post-programme children were more likely to choose water to hydrate themselves during school and during sport
  • Children were more likely to check bottles and cans for nutritional information after GULP
  • Children were better to able to identify high-sugar drinks post-programme, helping them to make informed decision in the future

You can download the full Give Up Loving Pop Evaluation Report by clicking the button below.


Healthy Stadia is now working with the Accrington Stanley, Fleetwood Town, Preston North End and several other clubs in the UK to scale-up delivery of GULP in 2019. If you’re club community trust or club foundation would like to get involved, please email Michael Viggars for more information or visit:

Michael Viggars

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