A petition calling for all schools in New Zealand sugary drink free and create a healthy food environment in schools will be presented to Parliament on June 22 at 1pm.
The petition comes in response to proposed Government changes to the promotion and provision of healthy drinks in schools and will be presented by Open Forum for Healthy New Zealand, Health Coalition Aotearoa and The New Zealand Beverage Guide Panel to MP Dr Elizabeth Kerekere.
Currently the Ministry of Education is pushing for primary schools to be sugar free but is stopping short of requesting secondary schools be held to the same standard.
The petition calls for:
- All schools provide a healthy food environment that encourages healthy eating and supports the health, well-being and learning abilities of children and young people in their care.
- The existing Nutrition guidelines for schools are replaced with a regulation that all schools and Kura Kaupapa Māori supply healthy, nutritious food, and a duty on all schools (primary and secondary) to only provide healthy drinks and food.
"We believe we need to go further than primary schools," Open Forum for Health Information Shona Jaunas says.
"Every child and young person in New Zealand deserves the best start to life and what they eat and drink is vital for optimal physical and mental health."
Research in New Zealand highlighted ‘free sugars’ as contributing significantly to high rates of poor physical health, poor oral health, diabetes, and other health-related diseases.
The consumption of free sugars in sugar sweetened beverages contributes to 26% of the total sugar intake of children.
Studies conducted by the Environmental Health Indicators New Zealand (EHINZ) note that dental decay is now the most common disease reported among children in New Zealand.
Spokesperson for the New Zealand Beverage Guidance Panel Dr Gerhard Sundborn says it is time to put children’s health first.
"The adverse health outcomes of high sugary drink intake have long-term health effects such as illness, disability, premature mortality and also contribute to inequity in New Zealand. "