A young All Blacks fan needing several teeth removed arrived at hospital drinking Powerade “because Richie does”.
The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board has called for an end to sponsorship deals between sports teams and junk food giants as part of its submission on an Advertising Standards Authority review.
Board principal dental officer Dr Rob Beaglehole said it was inappropriate for the sporting heroes of children to be linked with fast food and sugary drink brands.
“If children are worshipping these sports heroes, and sports heroes are associated with unhealthy products, it sends a very confusing message to children.”
Beaglehole treated a 5-year-old boy last year who came to an appointment to have multiple teeth extracted under general anaesthetic holding a large bottle of energy drink.
When Beaglehole asked him why he was drinking Powerade, the boy responded “because Richie does”, in reference to the former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.
Easier to blame Richie than blame the parents. The boy is five. His parents should be ensuring he has healthy food and drink. Nothing wrong with a kid having a coke occasionally, fish and chips occasionally, a burger occasionally. But not every day, and not enough to rot teeth. They’re called treats, not staple food and drink.
Sugary drinks were the number one source of sugar in the diets of New Zealand children, and contributed to multiple health problems including tooth decay, obesity and type 2 diabetes, Beaglehole said.
I don’t know if kids differ much from adults but the National Nutrition Survey found only 16% of sugar in diets came from sugary drinks.
As the principal dental officer, Beaglehole said he had a clinical responsibility towards the 20,000 children who lived in the Nelson Marlborough region.
“It makes sense for me to turn the sugar tap off in order to save these kids’ teeth.
No it doesn’t. Parents have the responsibility, not you.
The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board submission on the review of the code for advertising to children also called for limits on junk food and sugary drink advertising within 500 metres of schools.
Beaglehole said dairies, petrol stations and bus stops around schools often featured junk food advertising.
“It’s very difficult for children to get to school without running the gauntlet of these dairies that are selling products which are harming kids.”
The submission also highlighted the prevalence of sugary drink multi-buy and discount deals at retailers close to school grounds.
Marlborough Boys’ College principal Wayne Hegarty said the main reason sugary drinks were popular with students was the convenience and cost of buying them.
“A person that’s given $1 to buy their lunch is going to buy a can of fizzy.”
He supported the idea of limiting the sale of sugary drinks and junk food around schools.
This is particularly nuts. A ban on advertising within 800 metres of schools was mooted for Auckland. A map showed that these zones would cover almost the entire city.
Blenheim nutritionist Emily Hope said it was hard for children to make healthy choices when they were bombarded with advertising for unhealthy food and drink, particularly when those products were associated with role models.
It made no sense for sports teams to be sponsored by fast food outlets, she said.
“I don’t think it’s what the athletes themselves would eat.
“They wouldn’t fuel themselves with a [KFC] quarter pack before going out on the field.”
You should meet the Tongan Rugby Team.