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Consensus Statement on Sugary Drinks

Sugary drinks are no longer a looming public health crisis, but a very real one. By working together, and acting now, we can prevent not only oral health damage, but obesity - a leading risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

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Dental Association says sugary drink icon can help confusion over kids’ drinks

Recent research on the sugar content of supermarket-sold beverages in New Zealand shows finding out sugar levels is a confusing area says the New Zealand Dental Association.  

 Sugar is a major contributor to dental decay, and the study showed that some fruit juices have higher sugar levels than fizzy drinks.

 “We have said in our Consensus Statement on Sugary Drinks, people need a clearer way to know how much sugar is in the drinks they are holding,” said NZDA spokesperson Dr Rob Beaglehole.

 “A sugary drink teaspoon icon is much simpler than ‘100ml per serve’, so instead of focusing on the type of drink, customers could look at a label that states ‘contains 16 teaspoons of sugar’.

 “It’s about simplification, and comparing like with like. The teaspoon icon is the way to go,” says Dr Beaglehole. 

 “We’ve always said there’s no single measure that can be relied on. This broad approach will benefit not just childhood obesity levels, but type 2 diabetes, as well as dental health.”

 A consortium of public health groups is backing a NZDA-led 7-point Consensus Statement on Sugary Drinks.


 Notes to editors:

The seven actions are;

1) Introducing an icon on drinks indicating, in teaspoons, the amount of sugar in each drink. 

2) Independent monitoring and evaluation of food marketing, with an emphasis on marketing that influences children.

3) Urging the government to adopt WHO limit guidelines on sugar.

4) Encouraging public to switch to water by; introducing warning labels highlighting sugary drinks as risk factors for obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay, and a nationwide social marketing campaigns such as ‘Switch to Water’.

5) Working with schools and the Ministry of Education to introduce ‘water only’ policies.

6) Introducing local council ‘water only’ policies at council facilities and events.

7) Introduction of a ‘sugary drinks’ tax in line with WHO recommendations.

The Consensus Statement is endorsed by; Activity and Nutrition Aotearoa (ANA), Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, Cancer Society of New Zealand, Diabetes New Zealand, Hapai Te Hauora, NZ Dental & Oral Health Therapists Association, NZ Branch of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Paediatric Dentistry, NZ Society of Hospital and Community Dentistry, Te Ao Marama, The Heart Foundation, The Public Health Association, The Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons.

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