Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sugary drinks pulled out of Australian schools

Soft drink manufacturers will remove sugared drinks from school canteens and stop advertising directly to children in a major overhaul of beverage marketing. The Australian Beverage Council today unveiled tough new guidelines in response to increasing pressure to alleviate childhood obesity. The policy was signed by almost all major bottlers of non-alcoholic carbonated, non-carbonated, juice and water-based drinks, and will be introduced over two years. Measures include the removal of all sugar-sweetened drinks from primary school canteens and supply to high schools only on request. The companies also propose to not advertise any such products directly to primary school-age children or in TV programs watched primarily by children. So-called diet drinks would not be included in the bans.

The companies also would relabel products to declare kilojoule content on the front and additional nutritional information on the back. Australian Beverages Council chief executive Tony Gentile said the changes were designed to help manage the complex public health issue of obesity. "With this document, the beverage industry is flagging to both consumers and Government that we see ourselves very much as part of the solution in assisting consumers in making informed choices," Mr Gentile said. "Through these policies, I believe that the Australian Beverages Industry is now clearly and unambiguously indicating to the community its commitment to both its customers and to the wider community."

The document, called Commitment Addressing Obesity and Other Health and Wellness Issues, includes nine major initiatives. Others include increasing the range of low calorie products, encouraging downsizing of portion size to avoid over-consumption and boosting educational programs. The companies also pledged to conduct independent research on consumer behaviour to encourage healthier lifestyles


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