A nationwide dental group is calling on the Government to ban sugary drinks in schools but many Bay schools have already adopted the policy.

The New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) recently asked Education Minister Nikki Kaye to "make a stand" against the availability of the drinks in schools.

NZDA spokesperson, Dr Rob Beaglehole, said the drinks are the main source of Kiwi children's sugar intake.

He was concerned about the impact they were having on young people's health.


"We know that sugary drinks are the number one cause of tooth decay, obesity and type two diabetes here in New Zealand," Dr Beaglehole said.

"The number one reason children are admitted to hospital is to have their teeth taken out under general anaesthetic."

While the World Health Organisation recommended a daily sugar intake of six teaspoons per day, Dr Beaglehole was concerned Kiwi kids are exceeding this.

"If a kid comes to school and they buy a small can of Coke, that [is] nine teaspoons of sugar," Dr Beaglehole said.

"What we're seeing is a lot of teenagers drinking 1.5-litre Cokes which have got 40 teaspoons of sugar."

Dr Beaglehole said many schools were enforcing their own rules about sugary drinks but change needs to come from the top down.

He wants the Government to limit the accessibility of sugar in schools.

"The Dental Association is going around individual schools trying to convince them to stop selling sugary drinks but it's a very ineffective way of adopting policy," Dr Beaglehold said.


He believed banning sugary drinks was a logical step considering the "pain and suffering" they caused.

"It's not uncommon for me to take out teeth from kids as young as 18 note>eighteen months who have been consuming sugary drinks in baby bottles," Dr Beaglehole said.

"We don't give our kids alcohol to drink. We don't give them tobacco to smoke. But we are giving them sugary drinks.

Public health service Toi Te Ora's medical officer of health, Dr Jim Miller, believed part of the solution was making better options easier to access.

"Children spend quite a bit of their time at school, so making water and milk the easy and available choice helps them learn about healthier eating and helps reduce their intake of sugary drinks," Dr Miller said.

But for many Tauranga schools, change has already begun.

Arataki School principal, Shelley Blakey, said her school had a healthy food and nutrition policy.

"We don't do flavoured milk, fizzy, energy or sports drinks," Ms Blakey said.

"As a school, we did have to make a stand and put our line in the sand about what we believe is best for kids learning.

"Hopefully, [in the future] there will be none of those drinks brought to school by children either."

Otumoetai Intermediate principal, Henk Popping, said his school did not have a canteen anymore.

"We ban all sugar laden drinks and fizzy drinks," Mr Popping said.

"We put that ban in place just because of diet and healthy eating.

"Occasionally they may be able to access drinks from Otumoetai College through their lunch orders but very few do."

Aquinas College and Greerton Village School both encouraged water over sugary options.

Greerton Village School principal, Anne Mackintosh, said her school has a "no fizzy" policy and are moving "right away from any kind of fruit juices and things like that."

She believed reduced sugar meant kids would be "clear-minded for learning."

Greenpark School principal, Graeme Lind, said the majority of students at his school "just have water."

"Kids need to be hydrated and the best form of hydration is water."

By the numbers
* The recommended daily sugar intake is 6 teaspoons
* Dr Beaglehole said the World Health Organisation reduces this to 3 teaspoons for children
* A 1.5 litre of Coke has 40 teaspoons of sugar
Children as young as 18 months are having teeth removed due to sugar intake