Auckland Council drops sugary drinks from vending machines at leisure centres

Auckland Council is to drop all sugary drinks from council-owned vending machines. The Healthy Families team is pictured ...

Auckland Council is to drop all sugary drinks from council-owned vending machines. The Healthy Families team is pictured with Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, second from left, and Auckland Council chief executive Stephen Town.

Auckland Council is taking the battle against obesity and type 2 diabetes out to the community.

It announced on Wednesday  it is dropping sugar-sweetened drinks from vending machines at council-run leisure centres, as part of the Healthy Families NZ initiative.

Most of the machines are located in South Auckland in a legacy from pre-amalgamation days.

The council says it has made an decision to eliminate 340kg of refined sugar a year - equal to 85,000 sugar cubes which when stacked would stand the height of four and half Sky Towers.

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About 15,000 sugary drink sales are made from the 15 vending machines and the council says it aims to replace three-quarters of the drinks on offer.
Chief executive Stephen Town says it just doesn't fit to sell sugary drinks in places that are trying to support healthier lifestyles

"We operate 21 leisure centres that are community-led and we work hard to encourage Aucklanders to be more active more often as we strive to be the world's most liveable city," he said.

"We're not telling people what to drink but we are offering them better choices in our facilities that are focused on health."

Water, unflavoured milk, 100 per cent fruit juice, diluted fruit juice with no added sugar and artificially sweetened soft drinks will be offered.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman welcomed the council's commitment to the local Healthy Families NZ initiative.

"The initiative challenges communities to think differently about how to address the underlying causes of poor health at a local level," he says.

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"Obesity is one of the biggest health challenges we are facing as a nation. One in three of our adults are overweight and one in 10 of our kids and unless we get on top of this it's really going to impact on the health in our communities."

Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura manager Ben Youdan applauds the council's move, saying activating local and industry leadership is the key to addressing sugar-related health issues.

"Auckland Council is a lead partner in our local Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura movement. This is a fantastic demonstration of their strong commitment to drive transformative changes that will positively affect the health of our communities."

The removal of sugar-sweetened drinks will roll out between July and October this year, with all centres offering healthier choices in time for the peak summer season. 

 - Stuff

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