"There's just so many kids with rotten teeth."
It's the reality Rudi Johnson, the head of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board dental department, faces every day extracting decayed teeth.
It's part of the reason she is excited about a new healthy drink initiative adopted by Bay hospitals that she describes as a "long time coming".
Johnson said it was important the message she was preaching was reflected in her workplace.
"We find the availability of sugars in the community is so easy and it's everywhere."
Johnson said most of the children she saw were preschool to early primary school age.
"Overall it's sugar, and I think that is the great thing with that initiative because we're slowly cutting down the availability of sugar not just in the hospital but in the community.
"A large number of kids who I am seeing under general anaesthetic, and I'm pulling out lots of teeth every week, are mostly Māori kids and that's sad."
The loss of teeth affected children's confidence and wellbeing, Johnson said.
The beginning of last week marked the end of artificially sweetened and sugary drinks in cafes and vending machines at Tauranga and Whakatāne hospitals.
Diet soft drinks, juices, flavoured water and smoothies would be removed. Instead, staff and visitors could choose between plain and sparkling water and unsweetened milk, as well as teas and coffee.
Johnson said the main issue was how frequently children were consuming sugary drinks.
"Some of the kids are having sweet drinks and they're in the bottle and being put to bed where they can just sip away slowly on these sweet drinks.
"The more sugar's in your mouth and coating your teeth, the bacteria can just go to town and dissolve away your teeth."
Johnson said diet or no-sugar fizzy drinks were not the solutions.
"That's why we've taken out those artificially sweetened ones as well as the proper sugar-sweetened ones because they're pretty much all the same. The perception is they are different but they are causing the same problems."
Toi Te Ora Public Health Medical Officer of Health Phil Shoemack said the drinks held no nutritional value and contributed to wider health issues in the community.
"Sugar is one of the significant factors leading or associated with the ever-increasing problem with diabetes. It's not the only one, and no one's suggesting that just getting rid of sugar-sweetened beverages will solve the diabetes problem, but it's a key component of that."
Naturally found in fruit, people needed sugar, but not as much as was contained in some beverages.
Shoemack said a glass of pure apple juice had a sugar content that wasn't too dissimilar to a glass of Coke.
"We don't need as much as what you get from 100 per cent fruit juice or from sugar-sweetened beverages. It's about quantity as much as anything.
"The whole population, as a population, is getting bigger for our physical size and unfortunately, associated with that weight gain comes an increased risk of various ailments, including diabetes. It's not the only one, but it's certainly a significant one."
About 8000 people in the Western Bay of Plenty region have type 2 diabetes, including 1400 Māori and 200 Pasifika. About 4500 are men.
That number is expected to double in two decades, the Bay of Plenty Times has previously reported.
The decision is in keeping with Ministry of Health requirements for all district health boards to have a healthy food and drink policy, said DHB chief executive Pete Chandler.
"This is in place to demonstrate commitment to the health and wellbeing of our kaimahi, our staff, visitors, whānau and planet."