On June 22nd 2022 we called on government to make all New Zealand schools (primary and secondary) and kura kaupapa Māori sugary drink free and supply healthy food.
1342 of you signed our petition and it was supported by
Health Coalition Aotearoa
The Royal College of General Practitioners
The New Zealand Dental Association
The New Zealand Beverage Guidance Panel
The New Zealand Cancer Society
Te Puna Toiora Mental Health and Nutrition Research Lab
The petition hand over happened on June 22nd and was tabled in the house on June 23rd. It was received by Green Health Spokesperson Hon. Dr Elizabeth Kerekere
1/ All schools provide a healthy food environment that encourages healthy eating and supports the health, well-being and learning abilities of children and young people in their care.
2/ The existing Nutrition guidelines for schools are replaced with a regulation that all schools and kura kaupapa Māori supply healthy, nutritious food, and a duty on all schools (primary and secondary) to only provide healthy drinks and food.
We need you to keep up the pressure on your local MP and Chris Hipkins. When you see your local MP talk to them about food and drink in schools and email
Need more information? We have a great video of a discussion with
Dr Julia Rucklidge (Canterbury University)
Dr Gerhard Sunborne (Auckland University)
Daniel Martin (MoE)
Research in New Zealand has highlighted ‘free sugars’ as contributing significantly to high rates of poor physical health, poor oral health, diabetes and other health-related diseases.
The consumption of free sugars in sugar sweetened beverages contributes to 26% of the total sugar intake of children.
Studies conducted by the Environmental Health Indicators New Zealand (EHINZ) note that dental decay is now the most common disease reported among children in New Zealand. Poor nutrition and a diet high in additives has been proven to affect mental health. Research has demonstrated that children who eat healthy food are better behaved and better able to concentrate in class and learn.
Education is key to improving health outcomes in our community and schools need to lead the way. Promoting healthy food and then selling unhealthy food in our school canteens does not make sense. We already have Healthy Food Guidelines, The National Beverage Guidance Panel has provided them with a 'Water Only in School' Policy Document, but schools need to be given the duty and support to implement them.
Children are in school for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, so they are a key learning environment for children. Children will inevitably be influenced by the food that is sold and marketed in schools, so it is important that schools provide an environment that encourages healthy eating habits and supports the health, well being and learning abilities of children.
Most countries set minimum food standards for schools. The UK has mandatory guidelines for school food restricting a wide variety of fat and salt laden foods. Australia’s state and territorial governments have implemented nationally consistent minimum school canteen guidelines. California removed junk food from schools in 2006. France removed vending machines, Latvia got rid of junk food.
At the very minimum, sugary drinks should not be available for sale on school grounds, but sugary drinks are not the only problem. The food our children eat also needs to be healthy and nourishing.
Spread the word to encourage as many people as possible to hear from experts working in this field about the importance of healthy food and drink and why our schools need to be leading the way in educating and providing our rangatahi with the best start in life.
 Free sugars are defined by the World Health Organisation as monosaccharides and disaccharides added to food by both the manufacturer and consumer, including sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, and fruit juice.
 Sundborn et al, “New Zealand’s growing thirst for a sugar-sweetened beverage tax”, New Zealand Medical Journal, 2015.
 Rucklidge and Kaplan, “The Better Brain, How Nutrition Will Help You Overcome Anxiety, Depression, ADHD and Stress, Vermillion, 2021
de Ruyter JC, Olthof MR, Seidell JC, Katan MB. A trial of sugar-free or sugar-sweetened beverages and body weight in children. N Engl J Med. 2012;367(15):1397-406
Ebbeling CB, Feldman HA, Chomitz VR, Antonelli TA, Gortmaker SL, Osganian SK, et al. A randomized trial of sugar-sweetened beverages and adolescent body weight. N Engl J Med. 2012;367(15):1407-16.
Malik VS, Popkin BM, Bray GA, Despres JP, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sugarsweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Diabetes Care. 2010;33(11):2477-83.
Choi HK, Curhan G. Soft drinks, fructose consumption, and the risk of gout in men: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2008;336(7639):309-12.
Malik VS, Schulze MB, Hu FB. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84(2):274-88
Mishra MB, Mishra S. Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: General and Oral Health Hazards in Children and Adolescents. Int J Clin Pediatr Dent. 2011;4(2):119-23.
Ouyang X, Cirillo P, Sautin Y, McCall S, Bruchette JL, Diehl AM, et al. Fructose consumption as a risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. J Hepatol. 2008;48(6):993-9.
Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Sugar and fat bingeing have notable differences in addictive-like behavior. J Nutr. 2009;139(3):623-8.
Following are a range of articles regarding recent research covering nutrition in schools and behaviour