Health board targets diet soft drinks

Nelson Marlborough District Health Board may move to limit the volume of juices and smoothies that can be sold on ...

Nelson Marlborough District Health Board may move to limit the volume of juices and smoothies that can be sold on hospital grounds.

The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board may move to extend its ban on sugary drinks, the board's principal dental officer says.

A ban on the sale of drinks with added sugar from cafes and stores at Wairau Hospital, in Blenheim, and Nelson Hospital was introduced at the beginning of last year. 

The policy prevents the sale of soft drinks, energy drinks and flavoured milk on hospital premises.

Nelson Marlborough District Health Board principal dental officer Dr Rob Beaglehole.
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

Nelson Marlborough District Health Board principal dental officer Dr Rob Beaglehole.

Diet drinks, smoothies and fruit juices were not included in the policy. 

However, the board's principal dental officer Dr Rob Beaglehole said the health board might move to follow the lead of three Wellington district health boards, which not only banned drinks with added sugars but also prohibited the sale of drinks with artificial sweeteners and limited the volume of juices and smoothies. 

This would mean diet soft drinks, such as Diet Coke and Coke Zero, could not be sold on hospital grounds. 

"Emerging evidence suggests that not only are the diet soft drinks detrimental to teeth but that they are also a contributing factor to obesity and type two diabetes," Beaglehole said. 

Capital and Coast District Health Board, Wairarapa District Health Board and Hutt Valley District Health Board banned the sale of diet soft drinks as well as limiting the volume of smoothies and juices sold on hospital grounds to 250 millilitres. 

The health board would review its sugary drinks policy in the near future, he said. 

The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board was the first health board in New Zealand to introduce a policy limiting sugary drinks.

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The policy had been "overwhelmingly successful", Beaglehole said.

Both staff and visitors to the hospitals had shown support for the scheme. 

"We've had lots of positive feedback with people saying, 'It's about time that the hospital stopped selling sickness'." 

Beaglehole said the health board had shown leadership by putting a sugary drinks policy in place.

"It made it easier for other DHBs to follow suit. They could see that the hospital system didn't collapse without sugary drinks.

"People were still coming to the hospital and going to the cafe."

Health boards across New Zealand had until September 30 to remove sugary drinks from their shelves.

 - The Marlborough Express

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