Linda Hall: Cut sugary drinks for kids

By Linda Hall

Linda Hall is assistant editor at Hawke's Bay Today.
Linda Hall is assistant editor at Hawke's Bay Today.

Yes, let's put a 20 per cent tax on Coke and all other fizzy drinks. After all, according to a New Zealand study it's going to save 67 lives a year.

But wait...I have an idea. Why don't we take all that extra money and give it to whoever holds the purse strings when it comes to setting the price of milk. That way we can get cheaper milk.

I think affordable milk is one of the key factors in the fight against obesity and type 2 diabetes. Families need to be able to afford to buy as many litres of milk a day as they like.

Instead, fizzy is the cheaper option and you can't blame parents who are struggling to make ends meet for choosing it.

It used to be the other way around. Milk was cheap and fizzy was a luxury.

Personally, I don't like the stuff that much. Occasionally I'll have a lemonade or Fanta but I can't remember the last time I had a drink of Coke.

It bloats me and makes me do very loud burps which is not very lady-like.

I don't remember having bottles of fizzy in the fridge when I was a child and I'm damn sure there weren't bottles of the stuff in the fridge when my children were little. Yes, we did have it but it was a treat.

Today you can buy a large bottle of fizz for as little as $1.

It's common to see children and teenagers of all ages and sizes walking down the street swigging out of a bottle of fizz.

The stuff is addictive. I know there are plenty of other products on the market just as coffee, but coffee is not full of sugar (unless you add it).

This is what I don't understand. We have hundreds of thousands of milking cows in this beautiful country of ours. But we don't grow sugar cane, so why are sugary drinks so much cheaper than milk?

The other question doing the rounds lately is should fizzy be banned in schools? Hell yes.

Would you like to try and get a child to sit, listen and learn after they had had a can of fizzy?

They would be fizzing all right, but not on what the teacher is on about. No, they would more than likely be babbling excitingly to the person next to them about what they were going to do after school. So not only do they not listen but they distract others.

If the choice is taken away from them, the problem is immediately solved.

Once upon a time, milk was given out to pupils in schools so the Government must think it's good for us. Would they distribute fizzy drinks? I think not. Another reason they should do something about the price of milk.

We all know that raising the price of fizzy drinks is not going to be a magic cure for obesity and type 2 diabetes.

But perhaps it's a step in the right direction. What's more important, though, is educating parents and children about making the right choices when it comes to food and drink.

FOOTNOTE: This week I have been approached in carparks twice by complete strangers. The first was in a carpark in town. The young couple asked me if I had a cellphone. Stupidly I said yes. "Oh do you have credit? Can we borrow it?" "No," I said, as I scuttled off. Then unbelievably on Sunday morning in a supermarket carpark a young woman approached me. She said: "Excuse me madam would you like to buy this Michael Jackson CD?" She was opening it and showing me the inside of it as she came nearer. I thought "are you serious?" She was. I said no. Then without missing a beat she said: "Do you have $2 to spare?"

I really felt like saying a swear word but I refrained. Instead I said: "Absolutely not."

What the heck is going on? People do get down on their luck and I would be perfectly willing to let someone use my cellphone if they were in trouble but the couple were just walking casually through the carpark. They certainly weren't in any kind of distress. As for the other person, lets just say she looked far from starving.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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