Coun­cil says no to sugar pol­icy

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - REXINE HAWES

‘‘... we felt it was up to the pa­trons choice if they chose to have, say, a can of Coke.’’

Coun­cils around the coun­try are be­ing asked to con­sider a pol­icy which could re­move sug­ar­sweet­ened drinks from pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties, events and work­places.

But Mata­mata-Pi­ako Mayor Jan Barnes said tak­ing away the right for peo­ple to choose was not some­thing her coun­cil would sup­port.

The district coun­cil dis­cussed the mat­ter at its meet­ing re­cently and de­cided not to back the pol­icy, which would also be de­bated at the Lo­cal Govern­ment New Zea- land AGM this month.

Ac­cord­ing to a LGNZ re­port, sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages are one of the lead­ing con­trib­u­tors of sugar to the di­ets of New Zealan­ders.

There is a grow­ing aware­ness of the con­nec­tion be­tween sugar and health re­lated con­di­tions such as obe­sity, poor den­tal health and type-2 di­a­betes.

Hast­ings District Coun­cil has been asked to de­velop a pol­icy on sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages. It could in­volve a sugar-free drink haven within coun­cil fa­cil­i­ties and coun­cil-run events.

It is sup­ported by six other coun­cils around the coun­try.

The LGNZ re­port said coun­cils were well po­si­tioned to in­flu­ence the health be­hav­iour of staff, elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives and vis­i­tors.

Coun­cils could also model good health be­hav­iour for their com­mu­ni­ties, or set an ex­am­ple, through the de­vel­op­ment of a sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­age pol­icy.

But Barnes says it was clear her coun­cil­lors did not want to take away the free will of peo­ple.

‘‘It’s some­thing we want to work on, a pol­icy for what we do have at coun­cil con­trolled fa­cil­i­ties.

‘‘But we felt it was up to the pa­trons choice if they chose to have, say, a can of Coke.

‘‘We will not be com­ing down heavy handed on this.

‘‘Are we go­ing to play the po­lice on this? And that’s how I will vote at the [lo­cal govern­ment] an­nual con­fer­ence.’’

In 2013 Nel­son Marl­bor­ough District Health Board be­came the first health board to im­ple­ment a pol­icy which lim­ited sugar sweet­ened bev­er­ages.

Nel­son City Coun­cil sup­ported the ini­tia­tive through its own pol­icy.

The sug­gested course of ac­tion is that Lo­cal Govern­ment New Zealand pro­vide a tem­plate to help coun­cils de­vel­op­ment their own poli­cies.

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