Government spotlights high-sugar drinks in indigenous areas

Posted by Janice Wong on 20th May 2010

 The Australian Government is looking to reduce the consumption of high sugar drinks in remote communities. The move comes on the back of a study published by the Menzies School of Health Research on Monday (17 May), which found income management in the Northern Territory had done little to dampen soft-drink sales.

The research showed there had been an increase in the consumption of high sugar drinks in stores from October 2006 to September 2009. The research also cited reports that soft drinks are contributing up to 27% of the total sugar available through remote community stores.

“Foods and drinks with high sugar content can contribute significantly to chronic diseases such as diabetes and renal disease,” the report stated.

As a result, the Government said it is requesting a report outlining the options available to discourage consumption of high sugar drinks in indigenous communities. It has called for reports on the matter from the Department of Health and Ageing and the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

The report will consider options to encourage storeowners and managers to reduce the sales of these products and discourage consumers in remote communities from buying them.

Coke cans

“We know from the experience in Amata, in the APY lands, that removing high-sugar drinks from communities can make a huge difference. Following the decision by the community to remove soft drinks and energy drinks with high sugar levels from their store in 2008, soft drink consumption fell by 43,000 litres,” said Jenny Macklin, minister for families, housing, community services and indigenous affairs.

She added: “The detailed analysis and findings from the Menzies survey are not inconsistent with the findings in the Government’s 2009 Post Licensing Monitoring Report, and do not support a conclusion across all communities that the Northern Territory Emergency Response has had limited impact.”

Macklin said income management is an important reform to fight passive welfare and ensure more money goes to food, clothes and rent and less money goes to buying alcohol and to gambling.

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