Sugar policy passes local government vote

  • 26/07/2017
Sugar free bill
Proposed by Hastings District Council, it could see sugary drinks forbidden from council facilities and workplaces. Photo credit: Getty

Drinks with high sugar content could be banned from local councils, after Local Government New Zealand passed a remit on the final day of its national conference.

In a secret ballot, where media were excluded from the meeting, 61 per cent of council delegates passed the Sugar Sweetened Beverages Policy (SSB).

Proposed by Hastings District Council, it could see sugary drinks forbidden from council facilities and workplaces, as a way of encouraging good behaviour in their respective communities.

Nelson City Council already has a policy in place; it means that members of the public attending public events put on by NCC are encouraged to not consume sugary drinks.

They have also been removed from council-operated vending machines and from any council workplaces such as libraries.

According to the NCC's policy, any SSB is any drink that has had calorific sweetener, usually sugar, added prior to sale.

The main categories of sugary drinks include soft drinks/fizzy drinks, sachet mixes, fruit drinks, cordials, flavoured milks, cold teas/coffees, and energy/sports drinks.

The World Health Organisation recommends that sugar should contribute to no more than 10 per cent of the total energy intake, equivalent to about 12 teaspoons of sugar per day for an average adult.

As a guide, one can of fizzy drink contains 10 teaspoons of sugar.

The decision passed at the conference asks that all councils consider the development of an SSB policy, so each authority will make its own choice.

The New Zealand Dental Association was supportive of the measure.

"It recognises the key role that local government can have in creating environments that have a positive impact on public health," says NZDA spokesperson Dr Rob Beaglehole.

The NZDA wants councils to introduce water-only policies at council venues and events, and limit the sale of sugary drinks in and around schools.

NZN