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New Zealand’s ‘no sugary drinks’ logo launch sends clear health message

New Zealand’s ‘no sugary drinks’ logo launch sends clear health message
October 17, 2016

A new logo to promote outlets that don’t sell sugar-sweetened drinks has been launched in New Zealand.

Available for display in schools, fitness clubs, aquatic and recreation centres, sport canteens, workplaces, public spaces and event venues, the ‘no sugary drinks logo’ aims to empower communities around New Zealand to lift their health and wellbeing and send a clear message about the damage caused by too much sugar in diets.

The logo was unveiled last week at the third FIZZ symposium, ‘Toward a sugary drink-free Aotearoa’ - FIZZ being a group of health advocacy researchers and public health doctors pushing for a sugary-drink free New Zealand by 2025.

FIZZ argues that the evidence implicating sugary drinks in serious health problems, such as obesity, type-2 diabetes, rotten teeth and gout, is compelling enough to justify ending the sales of these products.

Marketing expert and FIZZ member Bodo Lang devised the logo with the assistance of graphic designer Jenny Mason and the marketing and communications team at the University of Auckland Business School.

Dr Lang, a senior lecturer in Marketing at the University of Auckland, explains “the consequences of too much sugar in our diets are far-reaching and wide-ranging for both individuals and society, from harming our wellbeing and the learning of our children, to massive healthcare and productivity costs.

"We’re heartened to see examples of strong community leadership on this issue - a growing number of schools have banned sugary drinks and principals are reporting a sharp rise in learning behaviours and decrease in disruptive behaviours in the classroom.

“Auckland Council is phasing out sugar-sweetened drinks from vending machines at 15 council-operated leisure centres.

"Many organisations, events and leaders have asked for a logo that would allow them to show their commitment to being free of sugary drinks.

"Just like the smokefree/auahi kore logo allowed people to draw a line in the sand against smoking, this new "no sugary drinks" logo will empower communities to lift their health and wellbeing. It’ll also send a clear message about the damage that excess sugar is causing."

The FIZZ symposium shared and celebrated progress made by individual schools and community groups in ending the sale of sugar-sweetened drinks while also address policy change, which it says must include a Government tax on sugary drinks and a nationwide ban in schools.

Dr Lang added “education and information are useful, but research has shown that policy and regulation is needed to change behaviours at the scale and pace called for.

"Smart policy and regulation can create a more health-promoting environment in which it’s easier, cheaper and more ‘normal’ to make the healthier choice."

Public polling shows growing support for a tax on sugary drinks - up from 44% in February 2014 to 83% in a NZ Herald Poll earlier this year.

At the symposium, Healthy Food Guide Editor-in-Chief Niki Bezzant, also discussed her petition calling for a tax on sugary drinks, signed by 7,000 New Zealanders within two months of its launch.

FIZZ founder Dr Gerhard Sundborn, a research fellow at the University of Auckland, says in New Zealand, sugary drinks (including energy drinks, flavoured milk, cordial and soft drinks) contribute 26% of sugar in a child’s diet and about 20% in an adult’s diet.

New Zealanders, on average, consume about 54 kilograms of sugar per year. That is equivalent to 37 teaspoons of sugar per person per day - four times the recommended maximum by the American Heart Association, which advocates the 3-6-9 message: a maximum of three teaspoons of sugar per day for a child, six teaspoons for a women and nine teaspoons for a man.

Dr Sundborn added "sugary drinks are the single biggest products which put added sugar into our diet.

"That’s why we’re targeting them - they’re the big ticket item. Then hopefully people will start thinking about the hidden sugar in other parts of our diet."

A study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal in February by Professor Tony Blakely, of the Department of Public Health at the University of Otago, found a 20% tax on sugary soft drinks could prevent 67 deaths from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and diet-related cancers per year.

Dr Sundborn says a tax would also give beverage companies an incentive to invest further in sugar-free alternatives.

He added "we see the industry as a key part of the solution - working together we can achieve much more."

The symposium was also addressed by Coca Cola Country Manager Sandhya Pillay and Frucor Group Chief Executive Jonathan Moss. Dr Sundborn applauded the two drink giants for introducing reduced-sugar products.

Dr Sundborn concluded “hopefully they will continue to grow their sugar-free product range and promote these as flagship products, replacing the original high-sugar versions."

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