Community sports coaches helping to improve oral health outcomes

Community sports coaches helping to improve oral health outcomes

Having a healthy mouth is important to overall health and wellbeing. Dental decay among children and young people remains an important public health issue as it can cause pain, infections, difficulties eating, sleeping, and socialising and may require time off school for dental treatment. Dental decay is also largely preventable.

The oral health survey of 5 year olds in 2019 showed that just under a quarter have tooth decay. Each child with tooth decay will have on average 3 to 4 affected teeth. Significant regional inequalities remain, with children from the most deprived areas having more than twice the level of decay than those from the least deprived.

In response to these challenges Blackburn with Darwen, Lancashire County Council and Buckinghamshire Council’s respective public health teams have commissioned Healthy Stadia and their local sports clubs to deliver the GULP Sport programme.

The GULP Sport programme, delivered during dedicated PSHE time, educates children about the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages on oral health, how to read nutrition labels to assess the sugar content of children’s favourite drinks, and the benefits of hydrating with water and low-fat milk. The programme also touches upon plastic pollution and how switching to tap water can also help to protect the environment.

Targeting schools in areas of highest deprivation, community sports coaches from Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, Burnley FC in the Community, Preston North End Community and Education Trust, and Wycombe Wanderers Foundation are delivering the GULP Sport programme to Year 3 children to address poor oral health and support the healthy weight agenda.

Coaches from Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, Burnley FC in the Community, and Preston North End Community and Education Trust will deliver the GULP Sport programme to a combined 110 form classes encompassing over 3,000 children.

Wycombe Wanderers Foundation, the latest club community organisation to deliver GULP, are currently delivering a pilot to a small number of schools in Buckinghamshire to assess impact. The programme has been co-funded by their local authority public health team and Sport England.

The GULP Sport programme has a monitoring and evaluation framework embedded within which can evidence attitudinal and behavioural changes in children, i.e., date is captured on drink preferences, frequency of consumption, and whether children follow toothbrushing guidelines. Data collected can be viewed in real time to help quality assure the programme.

Table 1. Data collected from Burnley FC in the Community’s coaches concerning children’s preferred drink to help them play sports.

To date, GULP has been delivered by community sports coaches from Accrington Stanley FC, Blackburn Rovers FC, Blackpool FC, Burnley FC, Fleetwood Town FC, Everton FC, Preston North End FC, and Wycombe Wanderers FC.

For more information about the GULP Sport programme, please visit the link below or contact:

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