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Canberra bans sugary drinks in schools

Canberra public schools will be banned from selling fruit juice and soft drink in vending machines.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher announced the ban on sugary drinks in public school vending machines and encouraged private schools to follow suit.

“The government is taking a firm approach to this plan and will remove sugary drinks from vending machines by the end of this term,” she said. “The ACT government has a clear plan to reduce the amount of people who are overweight and obese and a key way to achieve that is to reduce the availability of sugary drinks to children.”

Vending machines will be replaced with water refill stations and reusable drink bottles, and school canteens will be asked to phase out soft drinks and fruit juices by the end of the year. A 375 mL can of Coke contains almost 40 g of sugar, while packaged juice varieties can often contain 20 g or more. Fruit juices that are 99 per cent fruit may be sold in small quantities.

The move to ban sugary drinks is part of a larger strategy aimed at creating healthier generations. Last year, data from the Council of Australian Governments showed the percentage of Canberrans who were overweight or obese had reached a record high of 63 per cent, and the proportion of children who were overweight or obese had climbed 25 per cent.

To combat this, the ACT government is set to launch a new healthy food program for schools, as well as $2.2 million worth of grants for health programs to tackle obesity in the ACT. This includes new school food and drink policy with guidelines that will mandate the implementation of the National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines in ACT government schools.

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