A BORDER dietitian has backed the ACT government’s move to ban sugary drinks from school canteens, saying children don’t need extra sugar.
Kerryn O’Brien said schools should be promoting water because it was good for thirst.
Canberra’s public schools will see vending machines emptied of soft drinks, fruit juices and full-fat flavoured milks by the end of first term and canteens will have to phase them out by the end of 2014.
They will be replaced with water refill stations and reusable drink bottles in an effort to tackle the ACT’s growing obesity problem.
“Kids don’t need that extra sugar,” Ms O’Brien said.
“A typical 375ml can of soft drink has 161 calories and almost 40 grams of sugar.
“We also need to keep in mind that kids who are not active will not burn it off, so the excess sugar turns to increased weight.”
Ms O’Brien said the fizzy drinks were also known to be bad for teeth.
“Parents can monitor their child’s soft drink intake at home, but at school they should be encouraged to drink water,” she said.
The ban won’t extend to drinks sold at fetes and fund-raisers.
Member for Albury Greg Aplin said action had already been taken in NSW schools.
“It comes down to everything in moderation,” he said.
“Schools in NSW have already taken some initiative and it could just be a catch up thing in the ACT.
“You can’t ban everything but children do need to be taught and shown a healthy life — it helps to set them up for life.”
The NSW government’s Healthy School Canteen Strategy categorises food into three groupings — red (occasional foods sold no more than on two occasions per term), amber (select carefully — do not let these foods dominate the menu and avoid large serving sizes) and green (foods encouraged and promoted in the canteen).
In Victoria, the National Healthy School Canteens Guidelines developed by the Federal Department of Health and Ageing are not mandatory for Victorian government schools and agencies working with school food service providers.
The Victorian Department of Education website says schools should continue to provide healthy food choices and promote key health food messages to students.