Sugary drinks

Sugary drinks (also known as sugar-sweetened beverages) cannot be sold in NSW school canteens or vending machines.

Sugary drinks have been banned in NSW government schools since 2007. The Catholic Education Commission NSW and the Association of Independent Schools NSW strongly support the Healthy School Canteen Strategy in their schools.

What are sugary drinks?

Sugary drinks are those with any type of sugar added to them, except milk. These include drinks sweetened with regular sugar (sucrose), fructose, glucose, honey/syrup and fruit juice concentrates.

Examples include

  • soft drinks such as cola, lemonade, ginger beer, lemon squash, orange fizz.
  • flavoured waters (sparkling or still) or vitamin waters with added sugar.
  • energy drinks.
  • sports drinks, sports waters, glucose drinks.
  • iced teas.
  • fruit juice drinks (less than 99% juice), cordial, slushies.
  • fruit juice with added sugar, sparkling fruit juice, apple cider.
  • flavoured coconut water or plain coconut water with added sugar.

Why can’t sugary drinks be sold?

Sugary drinks contain energy (kilojoules) from added sugar with no nutritional value, and can contribute to excess weight gain in children. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends less than 10% of total energy should come from free sugars. Data from the Australian Health Survey (2011–12) found ¾ of 9–18 year olds exceeded this recommendation, and sugary drinks were a significant source of sugar intake. Many sugary drinks are also acidic, which can damage children’s teeth.

What drinks can be sold instead?

Drinking water is the best way to quench thirst. Also, it doesn’t have the sugar and energy (kilojoules) found in fruit juice drinks, soft drinks, sports drinks and flavoured mineral waters. Drinking water instead of sweetened drinks prevents dental problems, while the fluoride in tap water (and some bottled waters) can help strengthen teeth.

Water and milk are the best drinks for children

  • tap water is the best drinking water for children.
  • bottled waters are also suitable (for example, spring, mineral or sparkling).
  • plain waters infused with fruit/herb essence or flavouring only (no fruit juice, no sugars and no intense sweeteners added) are suitable. These can be made in the canteen or commercially prepared.
  • plain milk or milk alternatives with added calcium (e.g. soy or rice milks) are also healthy choices. Preferably reduced fat.

Other drinks to enjoy in small amounts

  • flavoured milk, milkshakes and smoothies, preferably reduced fat and no added ice-cream, gelato or sorbet
  • 99% fruit juice or vegetable juice (no added sugar).

Everyday drinks – fill the drinks fridge at least ¾ full

At least ¾ of the drinks in the school canteen must be Everyday products. For example, in a school canteen with 12 different drink products (including all flavours and portion sizes), at least 9 need to be Everyday.

  • make Everyday drinks the priority by having them facing in more than one position in the fridge.
  • ensure the Everyday drinks are most visible – place the Occasional drinks at the bottom.

Occasional drinks – limit to ¼ of the drinks fridge

No more than ¼ of the drinks you offer can be Occasional drinks.

At least ¾ of drinks in the fridge must be Everyday products. For example, in a fridge with 12 different products (including all types, flavours and portion sizes), no more than 3 can be Occasional.

All drinks must have HSR 3.5 stars and above (diet soft drinks excluded).

Find out more

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