Public Health lecturer believes banning sugary drinks from schools won't make much difference in children's health

A Public Health lecturer believes banning sugary drinks in schools won't make much of a difference to children's health.

In 2017, the Government acknowledged it needed to take action on children's access to sugar and today is it due to announce its next steps. 

In 2019, a New Zealand study published in the Obesity journal concluded consuming liquid sugars increased the risk of metabolic syndrome – a group of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and type-2 diabetes – compared with sugar from solid foods.

Auckland University of Technology's public health professor Grant Schofield told AM most schools won't be selling traditional soft drinks but lots will still be offering juice, which is an issue.  

"It depends what you call a sugary drink, I think you're hardly going to find a school if at all that still sells you a coke to your child when they are in school but I guess the category also includes things like juices, which have just as much sugar as coke," he said. 

"I think it would probably be about half our schools, the rest of them have been down this track for a very long time."

Schofield said he would like to see sugary drinks banned but he doesn't believe it will do anything as students will still be able to buy them in other ways if the Government decides to prohibit them in schools. 

"I don't think it will make much difference to anything but we need to and I think at least by doing this it's something about diet," he told AM. 

"I think if you look at kids' food supplies, actually all of our food supplies and it is obvious.

"We have been doing this for ages now taking photos of kids' lunch boxes or people's shopping trolleys or their dockets and what you see is about 80 percent of what goes down our mouths is what we call ultra-processed food and none of that is good for us, that is the elephant in the room, sugary drinks are just apart of that whole thing."

Schofield said there is a much bigger discussion that needs to be had about the mismatch between what humans are supposed to eat - which is whole food, which was "growing or running around somewhere recently" - and the stuff that comes in packets and bottles.

He agrees that if the Government does ban surgery drinks from schools it will make us feel better but it will achieve nothing.

He believes what we need to do is retrain our brains to stop thinking it's ok to eat unhealthy and sugary food. 

Watch the full interview above.