Ban on sugary drinks back on agenda

KATE DAVIDSON
Last updated 12:58 05/06/2014

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The Nelson City Council is reconsidering whether it should ban sugary drinks on council-owned property and at council-run events.

Nelson mayor Rachel Reese has assigned the council's planning and regulatory committee chair, Brian McGurk, and deputy chair Kate Fulton to look into the council adopting a ban in support of the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board's ban on sugary drinks at Nelson and Wairau Hospitals earlier this year.

The mayor's initiative was to be presented to the council to vote on today

Reese said she had had a "really good meeting" with Nelson Marlborough DHB chief executive Chris Fleming and principal dental officer Dr Rob Beaglehole earlier this week to discuss the health problems caused by sugary drink and how the health board had approached its ban.

"I applaud what the DHB has done.

"They have implemented some practical policies that are really going to make a difference and that is what I would like us to do here," she said.

"I think there are three major health issues we have got to address and we can link sugary drinks to these three health issues - obesity, type-2 diabetes, and major tooth decay in children."

Reese said a ban would be about being a good employer and positive role model for children in the community as the health board were spending $1 million a year to sedate children and remove their teeth because of decay.

"I think the time is right for local government to have a role in leadership on this issue because it is a big issue for all communities in New Zealand," she said.

"I've talked about Nelson being the best small city in New Zealand to grow children and this might be a very small step we can take."

The Nelson council voted on the issue in 2013, but was split on the matter so it progressed no further, and Tasman District Council also voted against a ban last year.

Beaglehole said discussing the issue with the mayor was constructive and congratulated her on the initiative.

He said the health board looked forward to working with the council.

"We are highly supportive of the mayor's initiative to introduce a policy where no sugar sweetened beverages are sold on council-owned property or council sponsored events. This is a proactive decision and one which will enable the healthy choice to be the easy choice," he said.

"It will be great to see the NCC leading the way in terms of being a healthy role model.

"Once the policy is adopted it is hoped that other councils around New Zealand will also follow suit, just like other DHBs have started to adopt the Nelson Marlborough DHB's sugary drink policy.

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- The Nelson Mail

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