Trade high sugar drinks for water, MP encourages

19 September, 2014

The Australian government has taken measures to encourage indigenous communities throughout Australia to choose water over soft drinks in an effort to reduce obesity rates and prevent chronic disease.

Assistant Minister for Health, Fiona Nash, recently released the 'Healthy Bodies Need Healthy Drinks' education package at the Miwatj health clinic in Yirrkala, East Arnhem (NT), and urged indigenous communities, schools and organisations to take up the challenge to choose water instead of soft drinks and other high energy drinks.

"Good nutrition and good health habits needs to start with us – adults and parents," Minister Nash said.

"Children learn from their parents, as well as their teachers, health workers and other community leaders. So we all have a role to play in teaching children and families to make better food and drink choices that will help them grow up happier and healthier."

Minister Nash said the Healthy Bodies Need Healthy Drinks education package was developed with the help of Aboriginal students from the Lombadina and Djarindjin communities in Western Australia's Kimberley region and Bourke in western New South Wales.

"Making good choices about what to eat and drink helps give kids the best possible start in life, provides them with the energy they need to stay alert for longer when they're in the classroom, and helps them develop healthy dietary habits as they grow," Minister Nash said.

Research shows there is higher consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks in some indigenous communities which can lead to dental decay, weight gain and chronic diseases such as diabetes.

The 'Healthy Bodies Need Healthy Drinks' creative materials are being sent to a range of community-based organisations throughout Australia and parents, teachers, health workers and kids to get behind this important initiative.

"Early education and preventive measures, supported by resources such as Healthy Bodies Need Healthy Drinks, are vital to ensuring health issues are avoided before they become serious, costly and potentially debilitating," Minister Nash said.