MidCentral District Health Board is to ban the sale of sugar-sweetened drinks from its premises by 7 April.
The ban will cover soft drinks, sugary fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy and other drinks where sugar is added to the beverage before sale. Low or no-sugar drinks such as water, unflavoured milk, tea, coffee and artificially sweetened soft drinks will still be available. Sugar will be available for staff and visitors who prefer sweetened tea or coffee (as these drinks contain a lot less sugar than sugar sweetened beverages). Fruit and vegetable juices will still be available, but limited to 250 ml sizes.
The DHB hopes the ban will encourage staff, and visitors to reduce their consumption of sugary drinks and avoid the associated risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and dental problems.
MidCentral DHB’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr Rob Weir said: “New Zealand has one of the highest consumption rates of sugar in the western world. Sugar-sweetened beverages are the leading source of sugar for New Zealand children. Sugar-sweetened beverages include soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, flavoured milk and other beverages that contain added caloric sweeteners. This policy is also about MidCentral taking a leadership role in its local community. It is hoped other workplaces will consider similar bans.”
Dr Jeff Brown Pediatrician and Clinical Director of Child Health strongly endorses the removal for sale of sugar-sweetened beverages. “Removal of easy access to sugar-sweetened drinks on MidCentral premises will help set an example to parents and caregivers of the most vulnerable members of society. Children who can spend their first and formative years drinking milk or water will set off on a lifetime journey to better teeth, better nutrition, and better physical health. Hospitals and health centres should be examples of best care, including what drinks we supply and promote.”
Dr Phil Marshall Clinical Director Dental Services also fully supports this move. “Reduction of sugar intake will improve oral health as well as general health. It’s not only the sugar content of these drinks which is excessive, but the acidity of some of the drinks means that people are literally dissolving their teeth away if they are frequent consumers. As a leading health service provider we need to take a lead in removing these drinks and advocating for more healthy alternatives.”
The DHB noted that many other District Health Boards have instituted similar policies, and that some Councils’ are also considering restricting the sale of sugar sweetened beverages. We believe that this ban will make MidCentral DHB a healthier place for staff, visitors and patients, and that our action will encourage people to reduce their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.”
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