By Annie Ualesi – Healthy Families Manukau Partnerships & Engagements Manager
Healthy Families NZ sites across the country are supporting local leaders to make big changes that impact on their communities’ health and wellbeing.
In a show of leadership in the battle against obesity and type 2 diabetes, Auckland Council recently announced it is dropping sugar-sweetened drinks from vending machines at council-run leisure centres.
This move has been driven by Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura working in partnership with Auckland Council colleagues.
“We operate 21 leisure centres that are community-led and we work hard to encourage Aucklanders to be more active more often as we strive to be the world’s most liveable city. It just doesn’t fit to sell sugary drinks in places where we are trying to support healthier lifestyles,” says the council’s Chief Executive Stephen Town.
The decision will eliminate 340 kilograms a year of refined sugar – equating to 85,000 sugar cubes – from its vending machine sales by replacing three quarters of the drinks on offer (11,000 out of 15,000 total sales in 15 vending machines).
If stacked, the sugar cubes would reach 4.5 times the height of Auckland’s Sky Tower.
Auckland Council’s leadership has sparked enquiries from other organisations across the country and from as far afield as England who are interested in following suit.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman welcomed the announcement.
“This decision demonstrates the Council’s commitment to Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura. This is a great example of local communities working together to find relevant localised solutions” says Dr Coleman.
In Rotorua, the Aquatic Centre has worked together with Healthy Families Rotorua and Sport Bay of Plenty to remove vending machines with unhealthy options to create a healthier environment for families and the community.
Both Healthy Families NZ sites built on the momentum that was ignited by District Health Board changes around food and beverages.
“Healthy Families NZ is about leveraging and amplifying the changes that are already underway in our communities to achieve better health outcomes for our whanau and our tamariki” says Leanne Morehu, Manager, Healthy Families Rotorua.