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Schools ban fizzy drinks in bid to improve children’s health

Thursday 21 March 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Education, Health, Local, National


Schools ban fizzy drinks in bid to improve children’s health
Apii Avarua students celebrate World Oral Health Day with ‘juicy’ apples from Prime Foods and water bottles from Te Marae Ora. Picture: Te Marae Ora/24032013

As of today, fizzy drinks will be banned in the primary schools who have signed an agreement with Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health.

These schools include Apii Avarua, Apii Arorangi, Apii Rutaki, Imanuela Akatemia, Papa’aroa, Apii Takitumu and St Joseph’s Primary School.

Schools in Aitutaki, Atiu, Mangaia, Ma’uke and Mitiaro have also signed the agreement with more to come from Rarotonga.

Secretary of Health Bob Williams made the announcement at the World Oral Health Day official celebrations hosted by Te Marae Ora yesterday morning at the Constitution Park.

The agreement will also provide financial support for schools where they will receive monetary donations, water bottles for every child, physical activity equipment and toothbrushes.

Williams says this investment is for the future of the country.

“The overall objective for oral health care is that by 2030 and beyond, no kids will have cavities,” said Williams.

Last year an oral health screening programme was conducted in all the primary schools.

“These results were not very good,” said Williams. “Which is why we want all schools to sign up to be a healthy school.”

Cook Islands has the highest childhood obesity rate with over 30 per cent of children having obesity, a recent study on worldwide trends in underweight and obesity revealed.

Williams earlier said he was concerned with the statistics, adding that the main causes were sugary drinks and processed or unhealthy food.

In addition, almost half of the Cook Islands population have non-communicable-diseases (NCDs).

Williams said: “Our aim is that by 2030 and beyond, our kids will not have NCDs.”

He said Te Marae Ora was working to build a healthy Cook Islands for 2030, collaborating with government, businesses, and the Cook Islands Child Welfare Association.

In her address, Minister for Health Rose Vainetutai Toki-Brown encouraged the audience and the students to be “champions” in school and at home by brushing their teeth in the morning and at night.

“The result will take you a long way,” Toki-Brown said.

She also acknowledged donations of juicy apples to selected schools from Prime Foods and sponsorships of toothbrushes and toothpaste for students by CITC.

Following the official opening ceremony, the Ministry of Health Oral Health Care team conducted free dental check-ups and several health activities.