City council cracking down on sugar

Sugary drinks and unhealthy food being served at recreation centres, libraries and city council-run events will likely be phased out to promote health and well being.

The changes would come as part of a Healthy Food Policy being developed by the city council, with a draft to be presented to councillors in May.

Head of strategic policy Helen Beaumont said the policy would likely include the phasing out of sugar-sweetened drinks in all city council owned facilities or events it runs.

She said unsweetened drinks were likely to remain.

More unhealthy foods defined in the Canterbury District Health Board guidelines would be reduced or phased out, she said.

“Council is taking the opportunity to lead by example in developing a Healthy Food Policy for its facilities and events,” she said.

“Through this policy, the council is aiming is to provide a healthy eating environment for its staff and the public to promote health and well being.”

Ms Beaumont said it was hoped the public would be able to experience a fuller range of healthy eating options at its facilities and events.

She said the policy would likely include a phased in time-frame for healthy food and beverages, and that would be determined in the draft policy.

Once the draft was presented to councillors it would likely go out for public consultation before being implemented, she said.

In July, Auckland Council dropped sugary drinks from vending machines across its 21 leisure centres, while Nelson City Council did it in 2014.

Professor Boyd Swinburn, whose research is centred on community and policy actions to prevent obesity, said the move showed “excellent leadership”, which would be applauded by the public.

“Having Christchurch events build a reputation for serving great, healthy foods will also create very visible demonstration to New Zealand and overseas visitors that these changes can be successfully made.”

He said if all national Government agencies became exemplars for healthy food service, it would create institutional role modelling for other organisations to follow.

The city council also plans on mapping all of Christchurch’s available fruit and nut trees, local food markets, community gardens and look into a joint healthy food procurement network.