Dental Tribune Asia Pacific

Queensland government removes sugary drinks from its facilities

QUEENSLAND, Australia: After having made a commitment to ban the promotion of unhealthy food and drinks from the advertising spaces it owns, the Queensland government has now removed sugary drinks from its hospitals and health clinics. The move has been made to help fight dental caries and to contribute to the improvement of people’s overall health.

The directive to make sugary drinks unavailable in its health facilities and simultaneously promote water as the beverage of choice for patients, staff and visitors is part of the programme outlined in the document A Better Choice: Healthy Food and Drink Supply Strategy for Queensland Health Facilities. The programme seeks to promote healthier food and drink options and improve the range, availability and promotion of healthy foods and drinks and, at the same time, limit the availability of less healthy options.

The removal of sugary drinks from health facilities in line with this strategy has been welcomed by the Rethink Sugary Drink alliance of 19 leading health and community organisations, which includes the Australian Dental Association. Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition, applauded the health implications of the move. “Sugary drinks, like sports drinks, soft drinks and energy drinks, are a contributor to tooth decay, weight gain, obesity, and serious long-term health problems, but ironically they are readily available in our hospitals and health facilities,” she noted.

Sugary drinks are those that contain added sugar, cream, ice cream, sorbet, gelato and/or confectionery. Some examples of these are soft drinks and energy drinks. The removal of sugary drinks in Queensland Health’s RED category is accompanied by a commitment to sell artificially sweetened drinks and flavoured milk in the AMBER category in small sizes only. Even then, sugary drinks still pose a risk to peoples’ oral health if consumed frequently.

Rethink Sugary Drink is encouraging other states and territories to follow Queensland’s example and recommends the following measures to tackle sugary drink consumption:
(1) a public education campaign supported by the government that highlights the health impacts of consuming drinks high in sugar;

(2) comprehensive mandatory restrictions by state governments on the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages at schools, government institutions, children’s sports events and places frequented by children;

(3) increased availability of free water;

(4) creation of state and local government policies that reduce the availability of sugary drinks in workplaces, government institutions, healthcare settings, sport and recreation facilities, and other public places.

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DT Asia Pacific No. 4, 2019

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