High-sugar drinks will no longer be sold at Northeast Health Wangaratta with the products to be phased out over the next two months.
The announcement comes as proposals for a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks were revealed by Fairfax Media and NSW move towards a statewide ban of the products in public health facilities.
NHW chief executive Margaret Bennett said in an email to staff last week sweetened drinks, some juices and energy drinks would no longer be available for sale by November 1.
“Whilst this is a change that we will need to communicate and manage carefully, I am confident that our staff and our community will appreciate that a health service such as NHW needs to be setting an example,” she said.
19.2 per cent of Wangaratta residents consume sugar-sweetened soft drinks on a daily basisNHW chief executive Margaret Bennett
“Nineteen point two per cent of Wangaratta residents consume sugar-sweetened soft drinks on a daily basis.
“This is higher than the state measure of 11.2 per cent.
“Overweight and obesity are the leading causes of preventable disease with 19.9 per cent of our population currently obese.”
A number of Victorian health districts have already discontinued the sale of sugary drinks, but it will soon be the case across the state in NSW, with the government making the nation-first pledge in June as part of the Healthy Choices in Health Facilities policy framework.
Soft drinks and similar offerings, considered ‘red drinks’ have not been available since December at facilities operated by the Murrumbidgee Local Health District, covering Corowa, Culcairn, Henty and Holbrook and Wagga.
Health promotion co-ordinator Brendan Pearson has led the initiative – which was the first in NSW – since it began in 2016.
“All those products were phased out by December and we’re quite often being asked for advice about the challenges, how we went about it and the resources we developed,” he said.
“Now the whole of NSW is going down that path.
“The rationale is to lead by example to our clients.
“We’re looking after our own backyard and we’re hoping that other organisations will take a leaf out of our book.”
Albury Wodonga Health has no plans to limit sales of sugary drinks, and as operations are overseen by the Victorian government, none of the service’s campuses will come under the NSW ban.