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This section contains media releases released a little while ago. Please note that due to the long time when some of these were released images have been removed and some links might no longer work.

June 29, 2007

West Coast children encouraged to opt for water and milk

It's natural, it's free, the West Coast has plenty of it and best of all it can help keen children healthy – water the best option for West Coast children.

Children on the West Coast are being encouraged to drink water and milk instead of sugary drinks as part of a new national healthy eating programme.

"In the last 20 years, the number of overweight and obese children and adults in New Zealand, including the West Coast, has increased so quickly it is being described as an epidemic," says Kim Sinclair, Healthy Eating - Healthy Action Project Manager at the West Coast DHB. 

"One way of combating this rise is to work with West Coast parents and caregivers to encourage healthy eating habits in their children. Cutting out sugary drinks is a key step towards a healthier future.

There is extensive evidence that sugary drinks contribute to weight gain in children. The 2002 Children's Nutrition Survey found almost one half of New Zealand children drank carbonated drinks and colas weekly and between a third and a half drank powdered and cordial drinks.

Water and milk are a better choice, as water is freely available on tap, has no added sugar and is great for quenching thirst. Milk helps build strong bones and teeth and is high in nutrients. After two years of age children can drink reduced-fat milk. Non-flavoured milk is best as it has no added sugar." 

The message to drink water and milk, instead of sugary drinks, comes from the HSC's Feeding our Futures campaign. The campaign, which includes television and radio advertising, also encourages families to eat their meals around the table and involve children in the preparation of meals.

Andrea Chisholm from Community and Public Health believes the timing of this campaign is ideal as West Coast early childhood centres and schools have recently attended Mission On workshops. These workshops reviewed the Food and Nutrition Guidelines and discussed the importance of the school environment in encouraging health food options.

West Coast early childhood centres are leading the way in the promotion of water and milk as the first option.

The Feeding our Futures programme was launched in May 2007 and began by giving parents and caregivers information about accessible, affordable and easy ways that they can provide healthy diets for children. 

The programme is part of the Ministry of Health's Healthy Eating, Healthy Action: Oranga Kai Oranga Pumau (HEHA) strategy to improve nutrition, increase physical activity and reduce obesity. 

For more information please contact
Vikki Carter
Community Liaison Officer
03 768 0499, Extn. 2665
027 245 9595

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