A recent paper by the Auckland Regional Public Health Service was picked up on by Radio New Zealand earlier this week: it’s being lobbied by Healthy Auckland Together to give the city council the same powers to limit dairies around schools as they do with alcohol stores.
“Dairies contribute to obesity promoting environments, with food sold in dairies often being energy dense and targeted to children and young people. New Zealand research found that the proximity of convenience stores are highest around secondary schools, low decile schools and those in densely populated and commercial areas. A median of two convenience stores were located within 5-10 minutes’ walk of schools. The most deprived schools had almost three times more convenience stores than least deprived neighbourhoods.”
You’ve only got to go into a dairy or a convenience store and you see what you are confronted with is sugar-sweetened fizzy beverages, chocolate bars, chippies, lollies et cetera,
Kids would often turn up with 2 dollar “lunch packs” from dairies containing a juice box, chips and some biscuits, which are more popular in lower decile areas.
“When queried by staff, parents identify accessibility to the supermarket and convenience as the main reasons for purchasing lunch bags.”
Schools providing healthy eating choices from the tuck shops or other programs can be undermined by these cheaper unhealthy options surrounding the school.
“Some schools recognise dairies as a problem, with principals calling for restrictions to what dairies are able to sell between school hours.”
Buying K Bars and pineapple lumps from the local dairy has been something kids have always done. Buying entire packed lunches however may be a new thing. Giving councils the ability to zone dairies may not be a bad idea, but will it really curb child obesity? As parents we’re dropping the ball, but who’s responsible for picking it up? I’d like to think we are.