Queensland’s Chief Health Officer calls for a ban on fruit juice and soft drinks

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 13th November 2012

Queensland parents should ban their children from soft drinks and fruit juices in an attempt to reverse the alarming rise in childhood obesity, according to Queensland Chief Health Officer, Jeannette Young in an announcement today.

The announcement comes at the release of the fourth report of the Chief Health Officer, The health of Queenslanders 2012: Advancing good health.  According to the report, one in five Queensland children is now overweight and a further one in ten is obese, making a total of 27 per cent of children, or about 200,000, overweight or obese.

In 2006, 21% of children aged 5-17 years were overweight or obese – a figure which has steadily grown about one percentage point each year since then.

Dr Young said that to combat the issue, parents should cut back on sugary drinks given to children.  According to Dr Young, with up to 10 teaspoons of sugar in each 375ml can of soft drink, a child drinking one can a day will consume 18 kilograms of sugar in a year.

“Many parents think fruit juice is a healthy alternative, but it is a poor substitute for whole fruits and is loaded with kilojoules. The high acidity level masks the fact that fruit juice has about as much sugar as soft drink,” Dr Young said.

“Ireland is looking at a proposal to ban junk food advertising during children’s programs and we too must look at different ways to improve the health of our children,” Dr Young added.

According to Dr Young, parents are responsible for developing healthy behaviours for their children at an early age.

“There is only so much that governments can do. In the end it is the parents or carers who choose what to put in their children’s mouths,” Dr Young said.

“Making healthy choices can be difficult at times, but the problem continues to worsen and it is time for parents to stand firm,” she added.

Dr Young said today’s report also indicated:

  • • about 60 per cent of children eat the recommended number of serves of fruit
  • • only 29 per cent eat enough vegetables
  • • half eat takeaway food at least once a week
  • • less than half of Queensland children are active for one hour or more each day, and,
  • • 43 per cent spend more than two hours each day using a screen for entertainment (not educational) reasons.

Queensland Health is partnering with the Federal Government to develop initiatives with external organisations to improve the nutrition and physical activity of children. Examples of the initiatives include the Good Start program, the Trim Kids project, Have Fun and Be Healthy, Get Up and Grow and Physical Activity and Nutrition in After School Care.

Active children playing tennis, image supplied by Queensland Health