Stephanie is a senior reporter for the Rotorua Daily Post.

School aims to be 'water only'

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Jessica Macdonald, 17, and Robbie Wong-Toi, 17, enjoying the new John Paul College water stations. Photo / Stephen Parker
Jessica Macdonald, 17, and Robbie Wong-Toi, 17, enjoying the new John Paul College water stations. Photo / Stephen Parker

A Rotorua principal has installed filtered water stations for students and is looking at ways to become a "water only school" following nationwide calls to tax sugary drinks.

The calls come after Britain's Treasury chief George Osborne announced a 25p (53c) per litre tax on sugary drinks.

The Ministry of Health released a statement yesterday saying it was encouraging schools to consider adopting healthy drink programmes, supporting a simple schools drinks policy of water and plain, reduced-fat milk.

According to the latest Health Survey results, one in nine Kiwi kids is obese and a further two are overweight.

John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh said the school had built two filtered water stations for students which were proving popular.

I've found at secondary school many of the students are actually quite health conscious. The filtered water stations allow students to fill up their water bottles and have been extremely popular
Patrick Walsh

At the moment John Paul College offers sports drinks and flavoured milk in its tuck shop, but Mr Walsh said he was not fooled by the perception that these drinks were healthy.

"Sports drinks and flavoured milk may not have as much sugar in them as fizzy drinks do but they are not as healthy as they are marketed to be. We are looking at ways to become a water only school and I think most students and families will be on board with the shift."

Sunset Primary School principal Niels Rasmussen said he discouraged children from drinking sugary drinks and had been working on a programme of reduction. "There are children who still come to school with fizzy drinks but we are working to change that. We know fizzy drinks are a precursor to bad dental health and diabetes but it has got to be a self-monitoring thing.

"When you can buy a 2l bottle of Coke for cheaper than a smaller bottle of water, something is not adding up. It doesn't make sense."

Otonga Rd Primary School principal Linda Woon said the school's management of sugary drinks was enforced at the new entrant level.

"When children start [school] we highly discourage their parents from giving them fizzy drinks to bring to school. It's part of our induction programme with every child."

Ms Woon said the school had water fountains and ran the Milk in Schools programme.

"With water readily available everywhere in the school plus our milk programme, children don't need to bring drinks in at all."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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