Rethink Sugary Drinks coalition applauds ACT Government for removing soft drinks from schools

Monday 24 February, 2014

The Rethink Sugary Drinks coalition has commended the ACT Government for introducing a ban on sugary drinks in government schools.

Prof. Greg Johnson, CEO of Diabetes Australia, which is a partner of Rethink Sugary Drink, said that if the project is resourced to ensure comprehensive implementation and enforcement, ACT students would reap the benefits of the decision for years to come.

"Too often we see Governments announcing small scale projects to try to put the ‘good' bits back into our lives - healthy food and healthy activity. Congratulations to the ACT Government for actually addressing the need to remove some of the ‘bad' bits from school environments."

"Schools have an important role to play in setting a healthy example for students. By removing sugary drinks in schools and encouraging students to drink water instead, we can take an important step towards reducing consumption of one of the key contributors to excess sugar in children's diets."

"There is no reason why we should have had vending machines stocked with sugary drinks in our schools in the first place."

The new guidelines are in line with recommendations released by the coalition of health agencies last year which encourage comprehensive restrictions by state governments on the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages in all schools.

Leanne Elliston, Program Manager, Nutrition Australia ACT Division said there was a recognition that sugar sweetened drinks are just too widely and easily available for children and adolescents, and the potential consequences these beverages have on long term health.

"Eliminating the sale of sugar sweetened drinks is the most significant change a canteen can make to improve the availability of healthy choices for children and adolescents. Canteens have the opportunity to reinforce the work the teachers are doing in classrooms to teach students about eating and drinking healthily," she said.

Dr Tim Mathew, National Medical Director Kidney Health Australia, welcomed the move.
"Kidney Health Australia congratulates the ACT Government on its decision to remove sugary drinks from public schools. Drinks containing sugar may cause or worsen health related problems - such as kidney disease - and with figures showing that almost half of ACT children are regularly consuming sugary drinks, this move is the first step towards tackling a significant health issue and empowering children to make healthy choices."

President of the Australian Dental Association, Dr Karin Alexander also applauded the initiative. "This initiative by the ACT Government shows courage and will address health concerns related to the over consumption of sugar. The oral health of ACT children will be greatly enhanced by this measure," she said.