Football coaches help children to Give Up Loving Pop

Girl taking part in Give Up Loving Pop programme

Football coaches help children to Give Up Loving Pop

Children in the North West of England were more likely to choose water for their education and to help them play sport than high-sugar soft drinks such as Coca-Cola, Lucozade and Red Bull following the 21-day Give Up Loving Pop Challenge. The success of the programme provides more evidence that community sports coaches at Club Community Organisations (CCOs) can successfully deliver on public health outcomes.

Lancashire County Council’s (LCC) public health team commissioned a second GULP Lancashire project in 2019-20 to improve knowledge, change attitudes and reduce consumption levels of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in Year 3 children, with the primary aims of improving poor oral health and reducing high levels of obesity across the county. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, delivery of the programme was moved back to March-July 2021.

As per the previous GULP project commissioned by LCC in 2018, the GULP KS2 programme used community sports coaches from CCOs attached to professional football clubs to deliver hybrid classroom and playground-based sessions in schools, with training and resources provided by Healthy Stadia, with support from Food Active.

The CCOs included Accrington Stanley Community Trust, Preston North End Community and Education Trust and Burnley FC in the Community and were selected based on their position within communities of highest need based on local and national data on overweight, obesity and oral health.

Community sports coaches delivered the GULP KS2 programme to approximately 1500 Year 3 students across a total of 50 form classes during dedicated personal, social and health education (PSHE) classes. The four-part programme was delivered during the Spring/Summer term in 2021 and included an introductory assembly followed by three inter-linked PSHE sessions focusing on oral health, reading nutrition labels and hydration for sport and education.

As part of the programme, children were also challenged to Give Up Loving Pop for 21 days and make a conscious effort to only drink water and milk both at home and in school. This data was captured using an innovative league table that tracked children’s progress day to day. On average, children achieved 17 days out of 21 free of sugary drinks with 80% of participants achieving a minimum of 15 days free of sugary drinks. Children were more likely to choose water to take to school and to help them play sport post-programme and also demonstrated a greater understanding of which drinks have higher levels of sugar simply by looking at a picture of a bottle or can.

Healthy Stadia is continuing to work with both LCC and the CCOs in Lancashire with a view to delivery the programme again in the 2021/22 academic year. Several other public health departments and CCOs in the North West are now taking note of the impact of the programme and are exploring ways to deliver GULP in their areas.

To download the evaluation report of the GULP Lancashire 2021 programme, click here.

To learn more about GULP and how you can get involved, please email: 

Michael Viggars

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