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Energy drink ban for under-16s being considered in bid improve health in Wales

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MINISTERS in Wales are considering banning the sale of energy drinks to under-16s and limiting the number of hot food takeaways near schools in a bid to tackle rising obesity rates.

The Welsh Government says the rising consumption of high-caffeine energy drinks among young people is also causing concern about the effects on their education.

Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle also wants to hear people’s views on restricting the promotion of foods high in fat, sugar or salt, ending free refills on sugary drinks and expanding the publication of calories on menus.

According to official statistics, approximately 1.6 million adults are overweight and 655,000 people are obese in Wales.

In addition, more than one in four of children in Wales are overweight or obese when they start primary school. It is estimated obesity costs the NHS £6.1 billion per year across the UK.

Lynne Neagle said: “We want to hear people’s views on how we can support the nation to be healthier and to reduce the number of people who are obese or overweight.

“Often, foods that are sugary or high in fat or salt are more readily available and promoted, making it harder for people to make the healthy choice.

“We know this is a difficult time for people with the growing cost of living crisis putting huge pressure on people financially.

“However we also know If current obesity trends continue, more people in Wales will die prematurely from cancer, heart disease, liver disease and type 2 diabetes.

“We need an open and frank conversation about how we can create a step change in our choices and behaviours. We are talking about reversing significant issues which have built up over generations in our food environment. I am launching the consultation today to start that conversation.”

The latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey shows people are consuming too much sugar, saturated fat and salt and too many calories, but not enough fibre, fruit and vegetables. The survey shows that young people aged between 11 -18 years consume up to three times the recommended maximum amount of sugar.

As part of Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales, the long-term strategy to prevent and reduce obesity, the Welsh Government is today consulting on banning the sale of energy drinks to young people under 16. Some energy drinks have 21 teaspoons of sugar and the same caffeine as three cups of coffee. Research shows that children who drink at least one energy drink per week are more likely to report symptoms such as headaches, sleep problems and stomach problems as well as low mood and irritability. There is also evidence to link regular energy drink consumption with low educational engagement.

It will also ask how our communities can be healthier environments, suggesting that planning for new hot food takeaways takes into account how close they are to schools and colleges and ensures factors such as existing saturation, local obesity rates and social demographics are considered and reflected.

The Deputy Minister added: “It’s clear that children and adults in Wales are not eating balanced diets, we have fallen into a pattern where foods high in fat, sugar or salt are readily available.

“Dietary behaviours in our childhood have a significant influence in what and how we eat and drink in later life.

“The consultation has a focus on children and young people and how the environment near their school and colleges can have a huge impact on how they eat.

“I was pleased to meet the young people at Whitchurch High to hear first-hand their views and opinions, which was incredibly insightful.

“The proposals set out in this consultation would support the long-term health and wellbeing of our nation. If we continue as we are, then sadly more lives will be adversely affected by ill health, both physically and mentally.”

The consultations will run until 1 September 2022.

Commenting on the consultation, Shadow Minister for Mental Health James Evans MS, said:

“It is important that children are protected from damaging products, but Labour have had 23 years in charge of health in Wales and obesity levels have kept rising despite a variety of consultations and strategies.

“I hope this one will be different, but the devil is in the detail. Any obesity strategy needs to be multifaceted, including the full return of NHS weight management services to their pre-pandemic status which Labour Ministers have refused to do.”

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Independence Day sees Fishguard welcome 80 American visitors

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80 AMERICANS have arrived in Fishguard on their national holiday, Independence Day, as part of a month-long cruise from New York City to London.

The eight-deck Seven Seas Navigator docked in Fishguard today (Monday, July 4), allowing tourists to spend the day exploring Cardigan town and its castle.

They are currently embarking on a 30-day trip that began on June 7 in New York. They have  stopped in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, as well as Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Scotland, and Ireland.

A spokesperson from Rivers Seven Seas Cruises said: “The tour will explore the wonderfully historical Cardigan, starting at the remains of its namesake castle overlooking the River Teifi, parts of which date to the 12th century.

“An audio-visual display in the castle’s medieval north tower recounts the history of the fortification, the centuries of invasions and how the castle became the birthplace of Wales’ biggest cultural festival, the Eisteddfod.

“Be sure to browse the lovely Georgian house and gardens on the grounds before heading into downtown Cardigan to explore further on your own.

“The architectural highlights include the 19th-century Cardigan Guildhall Market, a two-story shopping venue constructed with locally quarried stone.

“The field gun at the front recognizes the 7th Earl of Cardigan, who was a commander in the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade.

“Inside the market, you will find dozens of shops with merchandise ranging from locally made clothing to traditional Welsh delicacies. There are also plenty of art galleries throughout town.”

Cardigan Councillor, Clive Davies, has said: “Cardigan Castle and the town will receive a visit of around 80 cruise passengers who have booked the Discover Cardigan tour as part of their New York to London cruise.

“I’ve provided Richard Bros Buses with Cardigan town maps, so they will have an idea of the towns layout on route to visit us as well as access to the Cardigan Town App.

“So to all our unique Cardigan shops, be sure to look out for our US visitors.”

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More than £100,000 available to local projects via Sustainable Development Fund

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Community groups are encouraged to apply for funding before the September 7 deadline.

A NEW round of grant support has opened for projects based in and around the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park that reduce local carbon emissions and respond to the climate emergency.

With a funding pot of more than £100,000, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority is calling on local non-profit groups to submit their applications for the Sustainable Development Fund before the September deadline.

Do you run a community building that would benefit from having solar panels or an air source heat pump? Do you want to encourage your members or visitors to use bikes and need to install a bike rack or electric bike charging point? Are you a sports club that would like to install a water fountain to reduce the need for single use plastic? Or perhaps you have an idea to minimise waste such as a community fridge or recycling initiative.

Jessica Morgan, Funding and Grants Officer for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority said: “If you are seeking funding for a project in Pembrokeshire that contributes towards a reduction in carbon and helps respond to the climate emergency, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund may be for you.

“Organisations are welcome to reapply if they have completed a previous Sustainable Development Fund project and can demonstrate that the work has been completed and post project evaluation submitted.

“Unfortunately, we cannot accept applications from individuals, sole traders or businesses. Any organisation that applies must be based within Pembrokeshire.”

Information about the Fund and an application form can be found at https://www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/about-the-national-park-authority/sustainable-development-fund/ – or call 01646 624800.

The deadline for applications is 12:00pm on Wednesday, September 7, 2022.

The Sustainable Development Fund consists of money allocated from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Landscapes Sustainable Places Fund.

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Warning of serious disruption on M4 and M5 today due to fuel prices protest

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POLICE have warned of “serious disruption” to drivers using the M4 and M5 on Monday 4 July due to a planned protest.

Protesters intend to block the Prince of Wales Bridge from 7am until 7pm as part of a nationwide campaign against rising fuel prices.

The protest is due to start at the M4 Magor services at junction 23A eastbound and the Clevedon Interchange at junction 20 of the M5 westbound.

It is also expected to cause disruption to the M48 Severn Bridge and the M32.

Drivers are being urged to avoid the area or plan alternative routes.

Bristol Airport has issued a warning urging travellers to allow extra time if heading to or from the airport.

Police said additional officers will be brought in to ensure the protest is carried out legally.

Drivers have been advised by Gwent Police to work from home where possible and avoid the area between 7am and 7pm, with protestors planning to block parts of the road between M4 Magor services, junction 23A eastbound, and Junction 20 of the M4 between those hours.

Chief Superintendent Tom Harding said: “Gwent Police, and Avon and Somerset Police, are working jointly with neighbouring police forces and partner agencies to ensure emergency and critical services continue and to reduce disruption to both road users and local communities, however we are preparing for serious disruption throughout the day.

“I would encourage drivers to reconsider their journey, consider working from home and avoid the area where possible.

“The right to protest under UK law must be balanced with the rights of the wider community who may be affected. We have additional officers and support in place on Monday to ensure the protest is carried out in accordance with the law.”

The planned protest is thought to have been organised by the Facebook group Fuel Price Stand Against Tax, and has attracted both criticism and support online.

The latest travel disruption comes following the closure of the Severn Bridge for a second consecutive weekend, as well as the Severn Tunnel rain line which will be out of use until July 10 due to essential work. Motorists will be unable to cross the M48 Severn Bridge until 6am on Monday as it is undergoing essential work for eight months.

The bridge was first shut last weekend as painstaking work to repair and replace corroded suspension cables began. Traffic on the bridge is likely to be very heavy on Monday due to the fuel protest.

Police have told protesters banners must be tightly secured to vehicles and nobody should be walking around on the bridge during the demonstration. Protesters will stay inside their vehicles or stand beside them.

An organiser said: “We will now only be doing it on the Prince of Wales Bridge. We have to keep in mind everyone’s safety and if we block the bridge totally and there is an emergency there would be hell. Yes it means only one bridge but [due to the amount of traffic caused] there will still be a massive impact.”

Two weeks ago one of the initial M4 bridge protest organisers Ashley Fowler said : “We’re all car enthusiasts and we have all been worried about fuel prices and when I saw the post about blocking the bridges we began talking about it. Then people started asking me to make an event so we could update each other.

“I made the event because I run a car club in Cardiff which I started on social media during the pandemic lockdowns to help people’s mental health. When we can we go out to car parks and just meet up and have a chat but during the pandemic we weren’t able to do it so I made the group.

“Now we can’t meet up so much again because of the cost of fuel. I know some of them can’t drive so much because they need to feed their kids. It’s serious. People are getting really depressed about it. One of the boys in the group has actually sold his car due to fuel price rises.”

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