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Sugary drinks dropped from Auckland Council leisure centres
Auckland Council is taking the battle against obesity and type 2 diabetes out to the community with the the introduction of a plan to drop sugar-sweetened drinks from vending machines at its leisure centres.
Auckland Council Chief Executive Stephen Town explained “we operate 21 leisure centres that are community-led, and we work hard to encourage Aucklanders to be more active more often in the world’s most liveable city.
"It just doesn’t fit to sell sugary drinks in places where we are trying to support healthier lifestyles."
Introduced as part of the Healthy Families NZ initiative, the Council will be eliminating 340 kilograms of refined sugar – equating to 85,000 sugar cubes – from its vending machine sales in a year.
This will be achieved by replacing three-quarters of the drinks on offer (11,000 out of 15,000 total sales in 15 vending machines).
The move will see water, unflavoured milk, 100% fruit juice, diluted fruit juice with no added sugar and artificially sweetened soft drinks introduced to the vending machines.
Acknowledging the leadership shown by Auckland Council in tackling obesity and sugar-related harm, New Zealand Minister of Health Dr Jonathan Coleman stated “we’re not telling people what to drink, but we are offering them better choices in our facilities that are focused on health.
"Obesity is one of the biggest health challenges we are facing as a nation. One in three of our adults are overweight and one in 10 of our kids and unless we get on top of this it's really going to impact on the health in our communities."
Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura Manager Ben Youdan has also backed the Council’s move, saying activating local and industry leadership is key to addressing sugar-related health issues.
Youdan stated “Auckland Council is a lead partner in our local Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura movement. This is a fantastic demonstration of their strong commitment to drive transformative changes that will positively affect the health of our communities.”
The removal of sugar-sweetened drinks will be complted by October 2016, with all centres offering healthier choices in time for the peak summer season.
Auckland Council operates or licences out the operation of a number of other food operations, both within leisure centres and elsewhere.
Here Town advised “we are having ongoing discussions with relevant partners and suppliers over the provision of healthy choices across all areas of council operations.”
Top image: Auckland Council Chief Executive Stephen Town, left, and Council Leisure Manager Rob McGee weigh up the 340kgs of refined sugar being dropped from vending machines.
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