2016: The year of the water-only school?

Issue: Volume 95, Number 5

Posted: 21 March 2016
Reference #: 1H9d0w

The Ministries of Education and Health are joining forces to encourage schools to become water-only.

Sugary drinks are one of the most significant causes of poor oral health and contribute to childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Sugary drink consumption is associated with problem behaviours, and poor diet and nutrition are associated with lower academic achievement.

A survey of schools last year showed 10 per cent are now water-only, and just five per cent still sell full-sugar ‘fizzy’ drinks.

While every school will make its own decision, the two Ministries are keen to help all schools become free of sugary drinks by the end of the year. The Ministries are supportive of plain, reduced-fat milk as part of the policy. Schools participating in Fonterra’s Milk for Schools programme can continue to do so and still sign up to the water-only policy.

Resources for schools

The Ministry of Education has produced a resource that explains to parents and students why it’s a good idea to become free of sugary drinks, and sets out what schools can do. It can be found along with other healthy lifestyle resources on the Education website(external link)

There’s also a poster included in this copy of Education Gazette showing how much sugar there is in different types of drinks. Schools are encouraged to put the poster up somewhere prominent and order more resources from the Health Promotion Agency as needed.

Removing all sugary drinks from schools supports New Zealand’s childhood obesity plan, launched last October. And it lines up with a World Health Organisation recommendation to create healthy school environments, consistent with messages delivered in the curriculum.

Yendarra taking the lead

One of the first schools to become water-only was Yendarra School in Otara, Auckland, which eliminated sugary drinks 10 years ago.

Principal Susan Dunlop says the benefits were immediate. Student attendance, engagement, achievement and health improved, and many students took messages on healthy eating and drinking back to their families.

“Our kids positively glow with good health,” says Susan.

“Our message to other schools is – just do it!”

To order additional posters, please visit Health Promotion Agency website(external link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 11:10 pm, 21 March 2016

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