Public consultation has opened on a proposal for primary schools to only offer healthy drinks.
"We know that if kids eat and drink well, there are a myriad of benefits and good outcomes for learning," says Minister of Education Chris Hipkins.
"While some schools have already seen these results and chosen to put their own healthy drinks policies in place, we want to hear what people think about whether we can replicate those benefits across all primary schools and for all young people, parents and teachers."
Hipkins says research shows that dental decay is now the most common disease reported among children in New Zealand, and rates of obesity among children increased significantly between September 2020 and August 2021.
"Further, sugar-sweetened beverages account for more than a quarter of children’s sugar intake in New Zealand.
"The Government wants to ask what people think about all primary schools offering only healthy drinks, these being water, milk and non-dairy milk alternatives, to their students."
The consultation is an opportunity for schools, kura, whānau and health professionals, to have their say on the proposed approach, and the other options being considered.
This includes promoting healthy food and nutrition.
"Promoting healthy food and drink in schools is common practice in other OECD countries. Evidence also shows the earlier in a child’s development that healthy habits can be encouraged, the better.
"That's why through our healthy school lunches programme we are encouraging healthy eating and good nutrition, having already delivered more than 45 million lunches to over 211,000 young people in 921 schools.
"The initial proposal is for healthy drinks in primary schools. However, the Government is also considering a similar policy in secondary schools.
"We would like to get feedback on that as well, including from schools and school communities about what any barriers to introduction might be."
The consultation is being run by the Ministry of Education and is open for eight weeks until June 2.
The consultation document is here.