Press release

Swap while you shop: new campaign launched to get families making healthy swaps in January

A new Change4Life campaign aims to encourage people to make one easy swap to help cut sugar and fat from their everyday snacks, drinks and meals this January.

Change4Life’s Smart Swaps TV advertising campaign

A new Change4Life campaign launched by Public Health England today will encourage the public to make one easy swap to help cut sugar and fat from their everyday snacks, drinks and meals this January.

Change4Life’s Smart Swaps TV advertising will focus on swapping sugary drinks to diet, sugar free options or low fat milk, as it’s revealed that by doing so, an average family could save up to three quarters of a 1kg bag of sugar over 4 weeks.

While milk and dairy products are great sources of protein and calcium, families looking to make healthier choices could also swap whole milk for semi-skimmed milk, potentially saving up to a third of a pint of fat over 4 weeks.

The campaign comes as new data shows the vast majority of parents of children 18 and under (76%) are concerned about the amount of sugar their children consume and over two thirds (68%) are concerned about the amount of fat in their children’s diets.

But, once they know how much sugar and fat they could save by swapping to healthier options, they want to take action:

  • 40 % are likely to swap sugary drinks for diet, sugar-free versions, milk or water to save their family up to 283 sugar cubes a month
  • 40% are likely to swap to reduced fat cheese to save up to a third of a pint of fat each month for their family
  • 42% are likely to save their family up to three quarters of a pint of fat by swapping from butter to low fat butter or spread
  • 38% are likely to swap to low sugar cereal – like plain porridge or plain shredded whole grain to save their family up to 83 sugar cubes a month
  • 38% are likely to save up to a third of a pint of fat by swapping to semi-skimmed or 1% milk

There are five simple Smart Swaps to choose from:

  • Sugary drinks to diet, sugar free or no added sugar drinks or to low fat milk or water
  • Cheese to reduced fat cheese
  • Butter to lower fat butters or spreads
  • Sugary cereal to low sugar cereal, for example, plain whole wheat cereal biscuits, plain shredded whole grain or plain porridge
  • Whole milk to semi-skimmed; or semi-skimmed to 1% fat or skimmed milk

Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing, Public Health England, said:

Swapping like-for-like food in our diet could help cut out surprising levels of saturated fat, sugar and ultimately calories without having to give up the kinds of food we like. We all eat too much saturated fat and sugar which can increase our calorie intake. Together this increases our risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers.

We’re committed to doing as much as possible to support families to make these swaps, which is why I’m pleased to announce that hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of offers will be available to those who sign up to Smart Swaps and in store across hundreds of shops in England.

As part of the campaign, adverts will run on TV, radio and online highlighting the shocking amounts of sugar in everyday food and drinks, including up to 52 sugar cubes in a 2-litre bottle of pop.

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said:

We know how difficult it can be to make big changes to your diet which is why this new Change4Life campaign suggests small changes as a step in the right direction.

With over 60% of adults and a third of 10 and 11 year olds overweight or obese it is really important that we keep helping people make better choices about their diet.

We want to make it easy for everyone to keep track of what they eat and make healthier choices. By working with industry through the Responsibility Deal, we have, for example, already significantly reduced artificial trans fat and salt in foods, and set-up consistent front of pack food labelling which all the major supermarkets and some big manufacturers have signed up to.

By signing up to the Smart Swaps campaign, people will receive a free Smart Swapper pack full of tasty, healthier meal ideas, fun fridge magnets and money-off vouchers. A free Smart Recipes app is also available, bursting with quick and healthy recipes, which can be downloaded from iTunes and GooglePlay.

Public Health England has announced £840,000 worth of vouchers, provided by commercial partners, for those who sign up to the campaign, including money off sugar free drinks and hundreds of offers on healthier products at thousands of Aldi, Lidl, Asda and The Co-operative Food stores across the country.

Ainsley Harriott, Change4Life ambassador, said:

You’d be surprised at how much sugar and saturated fat you could cut from your diet just by swapping a few simple things – you won’t even notice the difference.

The Smart Swaps campaign has so many ideas for swaps and recipes; there has never been a better time to make a healthier change to your diet than now.

People can sign up and choose their swaps by searching Change4Life online.


Notes to editors:

  1. Smart Swaps is a registered trade mark of the Licensor and is used under licence

  2. Poll conducted by YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4,014 adults, of which 965 have children aged 18 and under who live at home with them. Fieldwork was undertaken between 20 to 23 December 2013. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18 and above).

  3. The amount of sugar cubes in sugary drinks has been calculated based on the average sugar content of the top 10 selling sugary carbonated drinks. The amount of sugar has been divided by 3.1 as one of the leading brands of sugar cubes is the Silver Spoon sugar cube which has 3.1g of sugar. Data collected October 2013.

  4. The fat savings for milk has been calculated by taking 1) average times the product is purchased, multiplying that by 2) average weight of the product purchased, then multiplying the answer by 3) average fat saved for the product.

  5. Monthly sugar and fat savings have been calculated based on purchases by a sample of 2.9 million families over four weeks. Source: Kantar 2013.

  6. Public Health England’s mission is to protect and improve the nation’s health and to address inequalities through working with national and local government, the NHS, industry and the voluntary and community sector. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk

Public Health England press office

Published 2 January 2014