Taranaki dairies ban kids from buying sugary drinks

  • 28/02/2017

Children are being turned away from dairies in Taranaki, where there's a morning ban on sugary drinks.

Dairy owner Hui Vhang has joined the fight to keep kids healthy and has become a self-proclaimed 'sugar sheriff'.

He told The Project he was approached by the Taranaki Health Board, which asked him to stop selling soft drinks to children before 9am. With two kids of his own, Mr Vhang readily agreed.

"Most parents understand what I'm doing because they want their kids to have a good education at school and have good health," he said.

It's part of a wider push to wean kids off the sweet stuff. The Ministry of Education wants school beverages limited to just water and milk, linking poor nutrition to lower academic achievement.

Teachers report improvements in attendance, attention, behaviour and concentration, when children are eating and drinking healthier.

And there's more than learning on the line - around a third of New Zealand children are overweight or obese. Among Pacific Islander kids, the number nearly doubles.

The battle with sugar has proven to be a thorny issue, with no one seemingly able to agree on what's the best tactic. A proposed sugar tax has been praised, and shut down, while another proposal suggests limiting advertising targeting unhealthy food at young people.

At the moment, only two dairies have signed up to the Taranaki Health Board's initiative.

For Mr Vhang, it's a showdown he's more than willing to take on.