Lo­cal schools go ‘wa­ter-only’

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - SHANI WIL­LIAMS

‘‘It is a no brainer - ev­ery school should be wa­ter only’’

Two Auck­land schools are tak­ing a stand against rotten teeth by adopt­ing ‘‘wa­ter-only’’ poli­cies.

Point Che­va­lier Pri­mary School and One­hunga Pri­mary School have scrapped all sug­ary drinks and re­placed them with wa­ter and milk.

The wa­ter-only ini­tia­tive is part of the Adopt a School pro­gram run by the New Zealand Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion (NZDA) and Col­gate - where lo­cal den­tists are chal­lenged to adopt a school.

The ‘‘adopt­ing’’ den­tist holds pre­sen­ta­tions at the school, erect posters ex­plain­ing the ben­e­fits of wa­ter and dis­trib­ute tooth­brushes and tooth­paste to all pupils.

The ‘‘adopted’’ school stops the sale of fizzy drinks, flavoured milk and fruit juices and im­poses a com­plete ban of these drinks on the school premises.

Den­tist Puja Singh from Me­ola Den­tal re­cruited Pt Che­va­lier Pri­mary School in Septem­ber 2016.

‘‘Den­tists see first-hand the dam­age sugar does to chil­dren’s teeth and sug­ary drinks are a lead­ing cause of den­tal de­cay,’’ Singh said.

The wa­ter-only ini­tia­tive pro­vided a plat­form for den­tists to make change within their com- mu­ni­ties, Singh said.

‘‘I love the pro­gram - if ev­ery den­tist adopted one school, it would com­pletely change the health of our chil­dren.’’

Singh is plan­ning to re­cruit an­other school.

Mother Car­rie Dean has two chil­dren at Pt Che­va­lier Pri­mary School and is a big sup­porter of the ini­tia­tive.

‘‘It is a no brainer - ev­ery school should be wa­ter only.’’

There was no rea­son for stu­dents to come in from lunch on a sugar high, Dean said.

Dean said the wa­ter-only mes­sage had changed her kids’ food and drink choices at home.

‘‘Not only do they al­ways choose wa­ter over sug­ary drinks but their eat­ing habits have im­proved.’’

This was im­por­tant con­sid­er­ing a lot of New Zealand fam­i­lies were af­fected by di­a­betes and heart dis­ease due to an un­healthy diet, Dean said.

Jack­son Dean, 8, said he would choose wa­ter over juice any day be­cause it does ‘‘a bet­ter job of re­fresh­ing him af­ter he plays sport’’.

The schools en­cour­age a ‘full wa­ter bot­tle’ pol­icy in the class­room.

A Min­istry of Health re­port said 42 per cent of 5-year-olds and 39 per cent of 12-year-olds have tooth de­cay.

In 2015 29,000 chil­dren in New Zealand had rotten teeth re­moved.

SHANI WIL­LIAMS/FAIR­FAX NZ

Char­lie, 5, and Jack, 8, make sure they take a full wa­ter bot­tle to school ev­ery day. Car­rie Dean

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