Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board to stop sale of sugar-sweetened drinks

According to a report by Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board, one in five children consumes fizzy drinks more than three times a ...
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According to a report by Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board, one in five children consumes fizzy drinks more than three times a week.

Mangere might be the first community in South Auckland taking a leap towards a healthier lifestyle.

Sugary drinks will soon be a thing of the past as the Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board moves to replace the sale and supply of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) with healthier alternatives, starting this week at the Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa Pool and Leisure Centre.

This change will take affect at all other council 'social' facilities, and at council-run events in the Mangere-Otahuhu area by December 2018.

Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board chair Lydia Sosene.
KYMBERLEE FERNANDES/FAIRFAX NZ

Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board chair Lydia Sosene.

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Social facilities include community centres, community houses, youth centres and community halls, libraries, marae within the libraries, swimming pools and recreation facilities, public open spaces, galleries and museums.

According to a report by the local board, one in five children consumes fizzy drinks more than three times a week. SSBs make up three of the top five consumer items purchased in the food industry in the country.

A 600-millilitre bottle of Coke, Pepsi, or equivalent, is labelled as one serving and contains 64 grams of sugar (that's 16 teaspoons).

Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board chair Lydia Sosene says they would be supporting the principle, but still have some questions.

While many community facilities promote health and sports, she says it could seem that the council, in a very subtle way, is supporting the sale of harmful SSBs.

"We're not saying people can't have it. But, in council facilities, it's not an option".

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She says it will be "a couple of years [to enforce the move] because it takes time for people to change bad habits".

But what about freedom of choice?

Sosene says when you live in an area like South Auckland, "sometimes those people don't have options, they've got limited choices. We've got too many fast food outlets that sell these drinks. Nobody questions it. All those profits go offshore, but we are left with the carnage".

District Health Boards across the region have created a National District Health Board Food and Beverage Network.

Healthier alternatives, as defined by the network include water, unflavoured milk, hot tea or coffee and 100 per cent fruit juice, diluted fruit juice with no added sugar, and artificially sweetened beverages or zero sugar soft drinks in small portions.

However, the sale and supply of alcoholic beverages won't be affected.

Auckland Council senior activation advisor for parks, sports and recreation, Peter Caccioppoli says Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa Pool and Leisure Centre in Mangere will replace all SSBs by December.

"Within the week, we will have replaced the drinks. It is an internal decision. We feel that these SSBs are harmful and can lead to obesity. We'd like to sit and talk [about it] with the community too," he says.

Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura manager Ben Youdan says they "congratulate the Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board for their leadership in adopting the replacement of sugar-sweetened beverages with healthier alternatives in council facilities and council-run events".

He adds that research shows the greatest source of sugar in our diets are sugary drinks and habitual consumption of these beverages is associated with a greater risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

The decision of removing SSBs from Auckland Council Leisure Centre vending machines has taken "340 kilograms of refined sugar out of the council system", he says.

 - Stuff

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