ACT News


Ban on soft drinks in schools

The ACT government will ban the sale of fruit juice and soft drink in vending machines at Canberra public schools by the end of this school term.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher announced the ban on Friday, bringing forward a five-year phase-out of sugary drinks in territory schools as part of tough measures to tackle the ACT's alarming rate of childhood obesity.

As reported earlier, Ms Gallagher also announced further plans to extend the ban to canteens by the end of this year.

She is also calling on private schools to impose their own bans, too.

During its 2012 election campaign, ACT Labor vowed to phase out sugary drinks in primary schools by 2017 by offering incentives for primary schools that agreed to stop selling fruit juice and soft drink.

At the time, Ms Gallagher said the government would not impose a blanket ban on the sale of fruit juice, soft drink and other sugary drinks.


But last year, Council of Australian Governments data showed the percentage of Canberrans who were overweight or obese had reached a record high of 63 per cent.

The proportion of children who were overweight or obese had climbed to 25 per cent.

In October, the government published a controversial ''zero growth'' discussion paper which toughened its stance by suggesting junk-food-free supermarket check-outs and regulation of the sale of sugary drinks to stop Canberrans from getting fatter.

Ms Gallagher said on Thursday that sugary drinks would be removed from vending machines at all ACT government schools by the end of term one.

''The government is taking a firm approach to this plan and will remove sugary drinks from vending machines by the end of this term,'' she said.

Ms Gallagher said she would have further announcements to make in this space when she launches a healthy food program for schools on Friday.

''The ACT government has a clear plan to reduce the amount of people who are overweight and obese and a key way to achieve that is to reduce the availability of sugary drinks to children.''

The ban was part of a government plan to develop a larger ACT government school food and drink policy with guidelines that will mandate the implementation of the National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines in ACT government schools.

Ms Gallagher has compared the war on obesity to the decades-long struggle against tobacco and has said it will take the work of a generation to curb obesity levels.

She has said that without serious measures, particularly strategies that target children, health systems across Australia will be ''unable to cope'' with the associated costs.

On Thursday the government also announced $2.2 million in grants for health programs to tackle obesity.

Among the recipients, ACT Medicare Local will receive funding to run an early intervention program for children aged from three to seven who undergo a health screening and are identified as being at risk.

The Physical Activity Foundation, the YMCA of Canberra, the ACT branch of the Heart Foundation and Gordon Primary School also received grants for programs that encourage exercise and healthy eating.


Comment are now closed