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Diet drinks should be expelled from schools too

11 December 2006

Diet drinks should be expelled from schools too - Greens

Children will still be exposed to nutritionless, enamel-destroying soft drinks with addictive and controversial additives in them despite a voluntary industry agreement with Government announced today, the Green Party says.

This much touted agreement, made by Coca-Cola Amatil and Frucor, is more about public relations and spin than public health, Safe Food Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"It will allow Coca Cola and Pepsi to continue to sell their branded, nutritionless, caffeine-filled colas in vending machines in schools, and will keep kids hooked on fizzy drinks,

"I am deeply disappointed that the Health Minister has not followed his British and French counterparts, and required that all soft drinks are removed from schools - not just sugar-filled ones.

"The Green Party outlined in a letter to the Minister evidence of the harmful effects carbonated diet drinks on children's health, dental health, wellbeing and behaviour. It is deeply disappointing that this advice appears to have been ignored and commercial interests have won out," Ms Kedgley says.

"Sugar free 'diet' drinks don't contain sugar and that's great. But they are nutritionally empty, and many contain caffeine, a mildly addictive substance, which affects the nervous system; can make children hyperactive, irritable and anxious, and can adversely affect bone health. A can of diet coke contains approximately 45mg of caffeine. Children are particularly sensitive to caffeine's stimulating effects.

"Diet fizzy drinks displace the drinking of water and milk. They are also highly acidic and can damage tooth enamel and contribute to dental disease. This is a serious public health concern with research showing the dental health of New Zealand children is continuing to deteriorate.

"Diet drinks may also contain controversial additives like aspartame, which has been linked cancer in animals. It has been linked to a wide range of adverse reactions in humans as well, including migraines and rashes.

"Given these risks to children's health, carbonated soft drinks have no place in schools. Schools should be encouraging children to make healthy choices, not unhealthy ones and should be following the United Kingdom and other countries in removing fizzy drinks and sweet cordials from the school environment."

ENDS

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