ACT govt's school soft drink ban praised by PHAA

24 February, 2014

The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) has awarded "full marks" to the ACT government following a decision made to ban the sale of fruit juice and soft drinks from vending machines by the end of this school term.

Banning soft drinks in schools is an important step to help safeguard our children's health, the PHAA said in a recent statement.

It asserted the ban was an example of "excellent leadership" and encouraged all other state and territory governments to take heed and follow the ACT.

"We know that children's health can be affected by being overweight, and that sugary drinks contribute no more than extra kilojoules (calories) and can damage children's teeth," said PHAA President Heather Yeatman.

"As an Associate Professor in Public Health Nutrition (University of Wollongong), and as a mother of two children, I know that sugary drinks are not necessary in anyone's diet. On an occasional basis they may add variety or novelty, but they certainly are not an everyday choice."

PHAA CEO Michael Moore said: "In 2013 the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommended limiting drinks with added sugars. This policy by the ACT government is a great example of government action to implement these guidelines.

"There is a direct link between overweight and obesity to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. This is not the future we want for our kids."

Australia's dietary guidelines were developed based on the best scientific evidence from around the world. Governments need to use these guidelines to inform their policies – to make healthy choices the easy choices for children (and adults).

"Water is the best drink choice – and Australia's water is very high quality. Taps, water bubblers and water drink bottles in schools should be encouraged," Professor Yeatman said.

Moore said: "Parents can only do so much when it comes to influencing their children's food choices.

"Schools also have a responsibility to provide a healthy environment for children to learn."

'The Fresh Tastes: Healthy Food at School' program which was launched recently in Canberra by ACT Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher and Minister for Education and Training, Joy Burch is part of the ongoing initiative to reduce the number of people who are overweight and obese.