Healthy drinks in schools plan goes out for consultation
Water, milk and milk alternatives: the government is seeking feedback on a plan to ban all other drinks from primary schools to keep children healthy.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins said consultation on the plan was opening today and would run for eight weeks until June 2, giving the public a say on the plan and other options being considered.
Hipkins said the government was also considering similar measures in secondary schools.
He said dental decay was the most common disease in children in New Zealand, and rates of childhood obesity had increased significantly between September 2020 and August 2021.
"Sugar-sweetened beverages account for more than a quarter of children's sugar intake in New Zealand," Hipkins said.
"Promoting healthy food and drink in schools is common practice in other OECD countries. Evidence also shows the earlier in a child's development that healthy habits can be encouraged, the better."
The plan would see state schools, character schools including kura kaupapa Māori, state integrated schools, specialist and distance schools required through a new Education and Training Act-based regulation to introduce rules allowing only water, milk and non-dairy milk alternatives.
The current National Administration Guidelines (NAGs) which set the government's requirements for school boards include a requirement for healthy food and nutrition, and the government has been encouraging the voluntary uptake of healthy food and water-only policies since 2009.
However, the NAGs are set to expire from January 1 next year. The government is aiming to bring the new regulations into force before then.