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Full sugar fizzy drinks out of schools by 2009

Hon Steve Maharey
Minister of Education
Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health

11 December 2006 Media Statement
EMBARGOED UNTIL 3:30 PM

Full sugar fizzy drinks out of schools by 2009

Full sugar fizzy and energy drinks will be removed from secondary schools by 2009 under a world-leading agreement between the Labour-led government and two of New Zealand's biggest beverage companies, Education Minister Steve Maharey and Health Minister Pete Hodgson announced today.

The voluntary agreement between the government, Coca-Cola Amatil NZ and Frucor Beverages Ltd is the world's first to be negotiated directly between government and industry leaders.

Steve Maharey says the agreement will see the removal of 1.1 million litres of full sugar beverages from schools over the next three years.

"I welcome the industry's recognition that action is needed on this issue," Steve Maharey said. "This agreement is a strong step forward that will support the work we are doing to ensure schools and communities can provide healthier alternatives for their students."

Pete Hodgson said the agreement was evidence of what could be achieved when government and industry leaders work constructively together.

"I thank Coca Cola Amatil and Frucor for their leadership on this issue," Pete Hodgson said. "Today's agreement is a major step forward for the Food Industry Accord and shows once again what can be achieved when we reach for cooperative, rather than regulatory solutions.

"Regulation in this case would have been costly and it's unlikely we would have been able to move as fast as we're now planning to.

"Over the past 12 months, New Zealand families have made tremendous progress in recognising the serious threat poor nutrition and a lack of activity pose to the health of our children. This agreement forms only a small part of what will be necessary to address this challenge, but shows that the government and the food industry are serious about playing our part."

Today's agreement follows the launch of the government's Mission-On package to promote nutrition and increased physical activity. Mission-On includes initiatives to improve the quality of food served in schools, reduce children's exposure to advertising of unhealthy food and to promote physical activity.

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Questions and Answers

What is the Voluntary Schools Beverage Statement?

The Voluntary Schools Beverage Statement between Government and Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand and Frucor Beverages Ltd will result in the withdrawal of full sugar carbonated soft drinks and full sugar energy drinks, supplied directly by these two companies, in New Zealand schools by the end of 2009.

The agreement is world leading, and aligns New Zealand with other countries working to respond to the global obesity epidemic.

Reducing the amount of high sugar foods that are consumed, and increasing physical activity, will help New Zealanders achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

What will the impact of the agreement be for schools?

The agreement covers full sugar carbonated soft drinks and full sugar energy drinks.

It is estimated that by 2009, around 1,105,000 litres of full sugar fizzy drinks and 118,000 kilos of sugar will have been withdrawn from the country's secondary schools.

The replacement of high energy, high sugar drinks with healthier alternatives in one large Auckland secondary high school as part of the Waitemata DHB traffic light beverage project resulted in the removal of 110kg of sugar per week from their school supply, or almost half a tonne each month.

What are full sugar fizzy drinks?

Full sugar carbonated soft drinks or fizzy drinks are often very high in energy containing approximately 8 teaspoons of sugar in a standard 330ml can.

Why are you removing full sugar fizzy drinks from secondary schools, but retaining drinks that contain Aspartame? Where are the health benefits in that?

Aspartame is a non-nutritive sweetener that is used to sweeten foods and drinks, so they are suitable for people who wish to reduce their energy intake. There is no scientific evidence of any significant adverse effects from a daily intake of aspartame far beyond current usage. Aspartame is digested to aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol. These compounds occur naturally in foods and are absorbed, metabolised and excreted by normal biochemical pathways.


Will secondary schools still be able to sell diet versions or other drinks which could be considered soft drinks?

The Ministry of Education is currently developing Food and Nutrition guidelines, based on the Ministry of Health's Food and Beverage Classification system, which will be introduced to help schools and early childhood education services provide healthy food options. These two sets of guidelines will identify healthy options and recommend water and low-fat milk as the beverages of choice for students. They will be implemented in 2007.


What is the Healthy Eating - Healthy Action Strategy?

Healthy Eating - Healthy Action or HEHA is the strategic approach to improving nutrition, increasing physical activity and achieving a healthy weight for all New Zealanders. Healthy Eating - Healthy Action is an umbrella strategy that aims to engage and initiate a range of cross-government programmes within schools, early childhood education services, workplaces and communities around New Zealand.

The aim of Healthy Eating - Healthy Action is an environment and society where individuals, families, whanau and communities are supported to eat well, live physically active lives, and attain and maintain a healthy body weight.

What are some examples of Healthy Eating - Healthy Action initiatives?

Current Healthy Eating - Healthy Action initiatives include Fruit in Schools, the schools and early childhood education services Nutrition Fund, the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative which promotes breastfeeding, and the youth lifestyle programme Mission-On.

What is Mission-On?

Mission-On is a broad-based package of ten initiatives to give young New Zealanders and their families the tools to improve their nutrition and increase physical activity. The initiatives will be delivered through SPARC, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health and builds on existing cross-government programmes within schools, early childhood education services, and communities around New Zealand.


ENDS

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