Communities are calling for change to costs and accessibility of sugary drinks to support their own efforts to address the harmful effects of sugar addiction leading up to World Obesity Day (11th October 2016).

As part of this awareness day, Hāpai Te Hauora, a national Māori community voice on physical activity and nutrition, are calling for regional and national decision makers to support community led initiatives that are leading the charge on health and wellbeing within their communities.

Anthony Hawke, General Manager – Māori Public Health says “Communities are doing their part in addressing the hold sugar is having on their people.” We are currently supporting one of these community initiatives, Te Mahurehure Marae based healthy kai and sugary beverages free policy. “It falls on our countries policy makers to respond to grassroots movements and advocate for policies that reinforce the efforts being made, otherwise we are still sending people back into a community environment saturated with sugary drinks which undermines the good work being done”.

Simon Thornley is a Keynote Speaker at the 2nd Fizz Symposium being held in Wellington tomorrow, and will present his findings on the association between sugar addiction and mental health. He says “Addiction has been linked to a part of the human brain responsible for subconscious control of behaviour and motivation. With schools such as Yendarra Primary School leading the charge on removal of sugar sweetened beverages from the environment, they are seeing marked improvement in behaviour, concentration and learning.”

Hāpai have been involved in implementing sugar sweetened beverage free policies within community events such as the ASB PolyFest in 2015, and are now proud to promote this initiative nationally. We know that our communities want to stop the hold sugary drinks have over their health, and want to shape healthy sugar free environments in the future.

Te Mahurehure Marae, based in Point Chevalier Auckland, have proven healthy kai and sugary free catering, is both good for the whānau and good for business. Tracey Panapa, Marae Manager says “It has been very rewarding to know everything that comes out of our kitchens is supporting our whānau live longer healthier lives. We cater for over 500 people per year, and this initiative, albeit small, is a step in the right direction in addressing the obesity epidemic in Aotearoa” Tracey goes on to say “we will be extending our healthy kai and drinks initiative nationally with two of our associated Nga Puhi Rangatahi league teams, who will be representing Te Mahurehure Marae in the National Māori League tournament at Wise Park in Wainuiomata, Wellington on the 21-24th October 2016”.

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