The Public Services Board (PSB) has a duty to improve the health and well-being of the population of Cwm Taf. In 2018 the PSB took the decision to remove all added sugar drinks on public sector sites and to replace them with healthier alternatives such as zero sugar alternatives, no added sugar fruit juices and smoothies, water and teas and coffees where available.
Why have we done this?
Research and evidence over many years has shown that drinks that are artificially sweetened with sugar can lead to poor dental health and also can contribute to weight gain.
People of all ages are eating and drinking too much sugar[i]. This is, in part, making the population put on too much weight, which can lead to poor health. In Cwm Taf, nearly 1 out of 3 adults are obese and almost 2 out of 3 are overweight. In our area, 14.4% of 4 to 5 year olds are obese – this is the highest in Wales[ii].
In Cwm Taf, almost half the children have tooth decay by age 5. This is more than the rest of Wales where the rates of dental decay have fallen in recent years.[iii]
Lots of hospitals and other organisations around the world have removed added sugar drinks[iv]. As well as this, the drinks industry has noted that people are starting to be aware of the damage that added sugar can cause and are looking for healthier alternatives. In 2016, 75% of Pepsi’s retail sales were in no added sugar varieties[v].
What about people with diabetes who need to manage low blood glucose (hypos)?
Hypoglycaemia should be treated by taking a sugary food or drink as quickly as possible[vi]. Fruit juice will continue to be available in vending machines and eateries on NHS sites in Cwm Taf. As other added sugar drinks will be no longer be available across public sector sites in Cwm Taf, it is recommended that people with diabetes should carry glucose tablets or similar products, which are widely available in pharmacists and retails shops.
If you have any concerns, please speak to a health professional for advice and guidance.
What about sports drinks after the gym, exercise or playing sport?
Sports drinks can be useful when you're doing high-level endurance sports and need an energy boost.
But they're no different from any other sugary soft drinks, which means they're high in calories and contribute to tooth decay. Some sports drinks can contain 6 cubes of sugar or more.
Unless you're taking part in high-level endurance sports, water is the healthier choice and the best way to replace fluids lost through exercise.[vii]
Are drinks containing sweeteners safe to drink?
Sweeteners are widely used in food and drinks. Both Cancer Research UK and the US National Cancer Institute have said sweeteners do not cause cancer.
Cancer Research UK have said that "Large studies looking at people have now provided strong evidence that artificial sweeteners are safe for humans".
All sweeteners in the European Union undergo a rigorous safety assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) before they can be used in food and drink.[viii]
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