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NZ Ministry of Education consultation on regulation of sugar sweetened beverages in school

The New Zealand Ministry of Education has asked for public feedback on its proposal to introduce regulations in schools to only provide healthy drinks for sale: water, milk and non-dairy alternatives. The consultation closed on June 2. If these changes are agreed, they will take effect from Term 1, 2023, after the current National Administration Guidelines (NAG) 5b ceases on January 1, 2023.

The Sugar Nutrition Resource Centre (SNRC, publisher of this newsletter) made a submission to the consultation. 

In summary the SNRC submission:

  • Supports option 1 of the proposal that combines nutrition and health education in schools to accompany the regulation rather than just the regulation itself.
  • Notes that the beverage industry already has a voluntary agreement to not sell SSBs directly to schools, although schools can buy through other general distributors.
  • Says there is an overall lack of data and evidence for the proposal, with children’s dietary intake data being 20 years old. An updated survey is urgently required to steer interventions, and particularly to obtain data relating to Maori and Pasifika children, who are higher consumers of sweetened beverages.
  • Says that school intake only explains a minor fraction of variance on sugary drinks consumption- 1% in cross-sectional research conducted in Auckland.
  • Says there is no evaluation of current healthy eating guidelines that could help guide development of the proposal.
  • Suggests the multifactorial nature of dental caries requires an appropriate policy response that addresses the complexity of the issue (eg water fluoridation, dental hygiene, dental care).

Recommend adding an objective to assess the impact of the regulation.

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