The Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) has today applauded the ACT Government for moving to phase out sugary drinks from government schools therefore removing one of the biggest contributors to extra sugar in children's diets.
Announced today by Chief Minister and Minister for Health Katy Gallagher, the new rules will see drinks with high sugar content, such as soft drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks removed from vending machines by the end of the current term, and from canteens by the end of 2014.
The move was met with a strong endorsement by Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition.
"The ACT Government gets a gold star for action and leadership with this initiative.
"We know that sugary drinks are a key contributor to excess sugar in children's diets and in turn if that sugar is not burnt off it can result in individuals becoming overweight or obese. With one in four Australian children overweight or obese, this step by the ACT Government shows commitment to the long-term health of its citizens.
"It takes real courage for a Government to invest in preventative health measures, particularly in the face of pressure from industry. This announcement, which is part of the Towards Zero Growth-Healthy Weight Initiative shows the ACT Government is really leading the way in obesity prevention.
Sugary drinks are widely consumed by Australian adults and children. In the 12 months to October 2012, Australians bought 1.28 billion litres of carbonated/still drinks with sugar, with regular cola drinks being the most popular (447 million litres).
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sugary drinks and the World Health Organization also advises restricting consumption of sugary drinks.
"We know that a healthy diet is needed not only for good physical health, but also good mental health and optimal learning outcomes so it is pleasing to see the ACT Government creating learning environments where children have the best possible opportunities to grow into healthy, well-educated adults," Ms Martin said.
It is also well established that obesity is a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
"The removal of sugary drinks from schools will certainly contribute to reducing the growing burden of weight-related diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer on future generations.
"Many schools are investing time and energy into healthy lifestyle education, which is often undermined by the plethora of unhealthy food and drink available within the grounds, by removing sugary drinks children will receive a consistent message about healthy eating," she said.
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