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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 13 Hansard (30 October) . . Page.. 3996..


Health—healthy weight action plan

MRS JONES: My question is to the Minister for Health. On 24 October in response to a question about the healthy weight action plan you said, and I quote "I know that this is the area where the plan will get most criticism, about whether or not we should ban sugary drinks or regulate sugary drinks or look at sugar-free checkout aisles. But the simple fact is that those steps have worked in terms of tobacco control."There is no reference, however, to potential bans of soft drinks in the healthy weight action plan—only to unspecified regulation. Will the minister confirm that the government is considering banning soft drinks as stated in her answer in this place on 24 October? If so, why is it not referenced in the healthy weight action plan? If not, why did she refer to a ban as an option for the government?

MS GALLAGHER: It is mentioned. I do not have a copy of the document in front of me, but the action items are split into two tables. One is fairly straightforward steps that we can take and the second table outlines a list of initiatives that look at things that would require regulatory impact statements and further consultation with industry. I do not have the exact words with me, but one of them is looking at the regulation of sugary drinks.

That is something that I will be pursuing as part of the health weight initiative. We have done it at the arboretum, for example, where I have not allowed a soft drink vending machine in that facility. Because of that, we have not been able to have a vending machine in that facility. So now the shop sells water. There is juice available but there are no soft drinks for sale in vending machine-type facilities. So it is something that we have some control over.

In terms of looking at supermarkets, it is a much bigger question. One thing I would say is that there was an ad the other day for a large supermarket chain selling a limit of eight bottles of family size soft drink for half price. That is what we are up against. There is no doubt that one of the biggest single contributors to weight gain in children is the consumption of sugary drinks. It is juice and it is soft drink. That is one of the single biggest contributors. So we have to have a discussion around—

Mr Coe interjecting—

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, Mr Coe!

MS GALLAGHER: the consumption of sugary drinks. The difference with—

Mr Coe interjecting—

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, Mr Coe!

MS GALLAGHER: sugary drinks is that they have an incredible amount of sugar in them. One 600 millimetre bottle can have 16 teaspoons of sugar and there is no nutritional value. It does not fill you up. So after you consume all that sugar, you are hungry. Yes, we have to have a conversation about it. Eighty per cent of the ACT adult population is forecast to be overweight or obese by 2025.


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