A lesson from their learned friends
Matenga said the suggested policy would help childhood health problems.
He said most parents knew what a child should be eating. However, it was cheaper to buy a bottle of fizzy and a bag of chips than to buy fruit or make a healthy sandwich.
‘‘What would help more is if the Government subsidised ‘real food’ [fruit and vegetables] and created a higher tax on fast food or heavily processed foods,’’ he said.
Other comments noted the best way to combat obesity was to make the healthy food more affordable.
Some people questioned a ban on all sugary drinks because some children, such as those with type 1 diabetes, needed that option.
Ministry of Health figures show a third of New Zealand children are overweight, and about 5000 children have surgery each year to pull out rotten teeth.
Dental Association president Susan Gorrie said the push was a significant tool in the fight against childhood obesity and tooth decay.
‘‘Sweet drinks, such as soft drinks, fruit juice and smoothies, are directly contributing to DHBs having to surgically remove decayed teeth from about 5000 children a year under general anaesthetic,’’ Gorrie said.
Sugary drink consumption was linked to problem behaviour, with poor diet and nutrition associated with lower academic achievement in children. Lawyers are dotted throughout a bustling classroom in a Porirua primary school. One is helping children unscramble anagrams, another explaining what hydrogen is.
The children are enthusiastic, lapping up the help provided by the visitors.
Every Thursday, staff from law firm Minter Ellison Rudd Watts head to Holy Family School in Cannons Creek as part of a project, Homework Help.
Stacey Shortall started the initiative as a way to connect staff with the community. She picked Holy Family School at random, and it accepted her offer to send lawyers along to help with homework.
‘‘My idea was to try to get different role models in front of these kids. Not better role models – they’ve got great ones from their community and families – just different role models who work corporate or professional jobs and might encourage kids to think a bit differently about what they might want to do when they’re older.’’
Since then, the school has expanded the programme, renaming it a learning support hub, and had people coming in to work with the children three times a week.
Shortall, meanwhile, is working to expand Homework Help.