St Lucia moves to ban soft drinks at schools

The Ministry of Health and Wellness in St Lucia is embarking on a campaign to stop the sale of soft drinks at the island’s schools.

It is looking to curtail the “disastrous efforts on health” that sweetened fizzy drunks have.

Regular consumption of soda has been linked to conditions including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, asthma and teeth cavities.

Last week, St Lucia’s chief nutritionist Lisa Hunt Mitchell met with school principals from Districts five, six and seven to discuss the best way to reduce the consumption of soda among young people.

She said the intention is not to place a hole in the pockets of the local manufacturers, but instead to ensure a healthier nation.

“We are aware of the negative impacts of soft drinks, so the Ministry of Health is engaging school principals, so that they can be supportive in trying to curtail the sale of soft drinks at the schools, she said.

“We want to encourage the children to drink more water, instead of juices or soft drinks.

“Sweetened beverages are bad for the health in general, but soft drinks have added ingredients such as caffeine, phosphoric acid, and colourings that are far worse. These ingredients have very negative effects on the health.”

Mitchell added that St Lucia isn’t the first to implement the policy.

“There are many countries that have actually banned the sale of soft drinks at schools. Barbados has done it, and Trinidad recently banned soft drinks and sweetened drinks from schools.”

The acting principal at the Plain View Combined School, Ella Tomas-John, supports the initiative.

“I think it should have been done a long time ago, so that by now we would have reduced on the number of behavioural problems that we experience,” she said.

“It is important to protect the health of our children. There are children who are obese because they consume all this sugar and do not engage in physical activity.

“Most children today play with their iPads or their phones instead of engaging in physical activity.”

WIC News has contacted the opposition St Lucia Labour Party for comment on the government’s plan.

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