Consultation on introducing a healthy drinks only policy in primary schools

Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga | Ministry of Education is publicly consulting on proposals to introduce new Regulations requiring primary schools to only provide healthy drinks, these being water, milk and non-dairy milk alternatives.

New Zealand health statistics show high rates of decayed, missing or filled Teeth in children by the time they reach their final year of primary school (Year 8). Longstanding structural and historic inequities in New Zealand mean that these rates are disproportionately higher for Pacific and Māori students. Sugar-sweetened beverages now account for more than a quarter of children’s sugar intake in New Zealand.

Current National Administration Guideline (NAG) 5b ceases on 1 January 2023. This NAG requires all school boards to promote healthy food and nutrition. Good progress has been made by primary schools in their voluntary adoption of healthy drinks, or water only policies for their students. But, to keep our children’s teeth healthy, and to reduce levels of childhood obesity, which has increased significantly in recent years, we are proposing to transfer NAG 5b into a legal duty, and add a new duty meaning school boards can only provide healthy drinks in primary schools.

The consultation is an opportunity for schools, kura, parents, and health professionals, to have their say on the proposed approach, and the other options being considered.

A minority of secondary schools also have a healthy drinks policy. The Government is considering introducing a similar policy in secondary schools in the future. Before taking this step however, we want to hear from them what the barriers to introduction might be. The consultation also gives us this opportunity.

The consultation closes at midnight on Thursday, June 2, 2022. If it is agreed to by Cabinet, the new duty to only provide healthy drinks in all primary schools would take effect from Term 1, 2023.

Make a submission here(external link)

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