Dairies aren’t parents

May 19, 2015

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service wants to limit what dairies can sell to children and restrictions on how many dairies can be in one area.

It said dairies were helping to make the country fat, and Auckland’s neighbourhoods were saturated with cheap, energy-dense food.

Health service clinical director Julia Peters said that needed to change.

“You’ve only got to go into a dairy or a convenience store and you see what you are confronted with is sugar-sweetened fizzy beverages, chocolate bars, chippies, lollies et cetera.”

Dairies are full of energy dense food and it is usually difficult to find lower energy food in them.

But dairies don’t force people to buy what they stock, they don’t give children the money to buy it and they have no way of knowing if children who buy their fat and sugar rich wares do so as a very ocassional treat, whether they share them with others or eat them all themselves.

That isn’t the dairies’ role. That’s the role of the parents.

Obesity is a growing problem. More people are getting fatter.

The reason for that is simple in that it’s the result of eating more than the body needs. But dealing with the issue is complex.

Six out of seven dairies near Hamilton’s Rhode Street school agreed not to sell junk food to children in school uniform after the student council asked them not to.

The principal, Shane Ngatai, said the effect was visible in the sugar spot checks they do from time to time.

“When we did the first bag inspection, we found over $100 worth of sugar in two classes alone. Now we’re not finding any.”

Mr Ngatai is completely behind the idea to take the plan wider.

“I don’t want to become the food police and I don’t want to be labelled a nanny state,” he said.

“But we don’t sell tobacco to kids, we don’t sell alcohol. Why are we selling this drug, sugar?” . . .

This is working in that area but requesting dairies not to sell junk food to children in school uniform is different from regulating what they can sell and how many outlets there are and there is a difference between tobacco and sugar.

Any smoking is harmful, some sugar as part of a balanced diet is not.

The people who should be controlling what chidlren eat are their parents.

Food outlets can play a part but rather than starting with the nucelar approach, why doesn’t the health service do more to encourage dairies to stock healthier alternatives like rockit apples?


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