University takes hard line on soft drinks

ACU students check out the sugar content in drinks  (ACU)

Australian Catholic University is the first Australian university to remove sugary drinks from its vending machines. It’s hoped the move will encourage other universities, schools and workplaces to follow suit.

The decision came after analysis revealed sugary drinks made up around 55 per cent of all beverages available in vending machines at ACU’s campuses across Australia.

Anne Cummins, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students Learning and Teaching) at ACU, said the university had a duty to ensure its students and staff had a healthy environment in which to study and work.

“We wanted to change the perception of what products are automatically expected to be sold in vending machines. ACU regularly reviews not just the goods and services we provide, but also the providers and supply chains we use. This is part of the university's commitment to a sustainable and healthy environment in which to study and work,” Professor Cummins said.

The vending contractor, Qualityvend, has removed any drinks with added sugar, in line with the latest guidelines from the Department of Health in New South Wales, including soft drinks, some flavoured waters, fruit drinks, cordials, iced teas, energy drinks and sports drinks across all vending machines at all but one of ACU’s eight campuses servicing 32,000 students.

The vending machines now have to follow the 75/25 rule, where 75 per cent of products are ‘everyday’ (healthier) food and drinks such as water, coconut water and diet soft drinks, and limit 25 per cent of the products to ‘occasional’ items, such as some fruit juices, and flavoured milks.

Jason Wu of The George Institute for Global Health, who managed the analysis with ACU, said: “This is a first step but there are many more to go. We know when people are presented with healthier choices they choose them.

"When drinks such as these have been removed from sale in universities overseas, people have not complained or demanded their reinstatement. They simply swap for a drink not loaded with sugar,” Dr Wu said.

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ACU launches healthy drinks policy (ACU)

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