PDH to Phase Out Sugary Drinks

Caption: Timboon and District Healthcare Service CEO, Gerry Sheehan, South West Healthcare CEO, John Kryger, Barwon Health Interim CEO, Paul Cohen, Heywood Rural Health CEO, Jackie Kelly, Western District Health Service CEO, Rohan Fitzgerald, Moyne Health
General
Tuesday, 14 June 2016
Portland District Health (PDH) will phase out the sale of sugary drinks over the next two years as part of a Victorian-first initiative to set a healthy example to the community.

PDH is one of 13 health services from Geelong to Portland making the move to combat rising levels of obesity.

The transformational step was initiated by Western District Health Service last November when it became the first health service in Australia to remove sugary drinks from sale.

Chief Executive Rohan Fitzgerald encouraged other health services to make the change, and says it's vital that community leaders and organisations support people to make healthier choices.

We believe we need to take a more active role in ensuring that consumers understand just how much sugar there is in soft drinks and energy / sports drinks and the detrimental effects on health and lifestyle associated with sugary drink overconsumption, Mr Fitzgerald said.

PDH CEO Chris Giles said PDH was setting itself the task of being a healthy workplace and leading by example to promote a healthier lifestyle.

However, she said that unlike smoking, consuming sweet drinks would not be banned at PDH. People are quite welcome to bring their own sweet drinks but after two years we won't be supplying any, she said.

Ms Giles said there was a wealth of research that proved sweet drinks are an unhealthy option. As a partner of the Portland SEAchange initiative, it is important we show leadership in the fight against obesity within our community, she said.

In addition to removing the sugary drinks on sale, PDH is working with dietitians and removing cordial from the organisation.

The removal of cordial supplied to staff and patients will be the first part of the approach, followed by the removal of soft drinks from vending machines. It is expected carbonated soft drinks, including diet options, will be cut out within 24 months from the remaining sales areas.

Ms Giles said the practice of supplying cordial to staff and patients started because of concerns about the taste of Portland’s water, however new substitutes will be made available.

;We're consuming six bottles of cordial a day which is a very unhealthy stance, Ms Giles said. We're instead aiming to make filtered water available for patients and staff which will have an acceptable taste, she said.

The following year PDH plans to remove sugary drinks from sale in the kiosk. This will include sweet fruit juices but there are plans to introduce healthy, freshly-made replacements like smoothies. Approved flavoured milk options will be retained at this stage.

We're in the business of promoting health and sugary drinks are proven to be an unhealthy option, Ms Giles said.

We are phasing in the changes over time and consulting staff and our community to ensure they understand the good public health reasons for doing this. It's still free choice; people can bring soft drinks or juices to the hospital but we're not going to make it available.”

Statistics show that Australia's consumption of soft drinks and sports drinks is amongst the highest in the world, with a study in 2012 revealing that 1.28 billion litres of sugary drinks were consumed over a 12 month period.

Director of Deakin University's WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Professor Steven Allender, welcomed the move.

This is a fantastic example of this region showing international leadership facing one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century in obesity and related conditions like diabetes and heart disease, Professor Allender said.

Across Australia more than three quarters of kids exceed the WHO guidelines for daily sugar intake. The research among children in the Great South Coast shows that, as with many parts of Australia, overweight and obesity is a major issue.

The willingness of the leaders in the region to address this problem is cause for great hope.

This health service initiative is just one example of how individuals and organisations, big and small, can and must work together within their areas of influence to make the change they want to see in their communities, Professor Allender said.

The healthcare providers who have joined the call to discontinue the sale of sugary drinks are Barwon Health, Casterton Memorial Hospital, Colac Area Health, Hesse Rural Health Service, Heywood Rural Health, Lorne Community Hospital, Moyne Health Services, Otway Health and Community Services, Portland District Health, South West Healthcare, Terang and Mortlake Health Service, Timboon Healthcare and Western District Health Service.


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