Wai Auckland

The picture

  • High sugar consumption in the Auckland region is a major cause of dental decay and chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity.
  • Nearly a third (30.4%) of Auckland adults and 15 percent of Auckland children are obese, with rates continuing to trend upwards.
  • New Zealanders consume an estimated 73 litres of “fizzy” soft drink per person, per year. Soft drinks are high in sugar (there are 16 teaspoons of sugar in one, 600ml regular soft drink) and sometimes contain caffeine.
  • Consumption of one can of soft drink per day can result in weight gain of more than five kilograms per year, if the excess energy gained from the soft drink is not burned off.
  • 69% of us drink sugary drinks daily or weekly, with 41% choosing fizzy as their ‘go-to’ cold drink when out and about. That figure rises to 52% among 30-44-year-olds and an alarming 63% for children.
  • What we drink (tea, coffee, hot chocolate, juices, cordial, soft drinks, powdered drinks, sports and energy drinks) represents the main source of sugar in our diet – 26%!
  • Dental decay is the leading cause of avoidable hospital admissions for children in New Zealand, with sugary drinks between meals being the leading cause of decay.
  • More than half of Auckland under-five-year-olds have at least one missing, decayed or filled tooth. And, on average, five-year-old children in Auckland have 2.3 decayed, missing or filled teeth. That figure is 3.7 times higher for Māori children and 4.8 times higher for Pacific children.
  • Children who are obese are 30 percent more likely to also have the worst grade of dental decay, and children living in the most deprived neighbourhoods are more than ten times as likely to have the worst category of dental decay.
  • The pervasive marketing of sugar-sweetened foods and drinks increases their appeal and consumption.
  • Urgent change is needed to stop the marketing and supply of cheap, nutrient-poor, energy-dense foods and drinks in communities – especially in poorer suburbs, and especially to vulnerable children.

The plan

  • To make tap water the first and convenient choice, not sugary drinks.
  • To improve the access, availability and appeal of Auckland’s tap water through new and improved infrastructure (drinking water fountains).
  • To displace sugary drinks and increase tap water access, appeal and availability through advocacy.
  • To normalise tap water refills (rather than the purchase of bottled water and sugary drinks) – a change that will help protect health and the environment.
  • To disrupt the prevalence and marketing of sugary drinks – especially in places where children and young people gather.
  • To raise awareness about where to access tap water.
  • To influence planning processes to include the provision of drinking water fountains.

Success in reducing obesity requires as many interventions as possible by a range of private and public sectors.