Government mulls ban on soft drinks in schools

Barbados could follow in the footsteps of Trinidad and Tobago in banning the sale and promotion of sweet drinks at schools across the island.

The ban in Port of Spain, which was approved by the Keith Rowley Cabinet, is due to take effect on April 1.

Minister of Health John Boyce this morning told a consultation on healthy eating he had asked officers in his ministry to draw up a set of policy options – to include a ban on sweetened drinks – for consideration by Cabinet.

“I am especially concerned about children and what is available to them on a daily basis in schools and its environs. Among these [policy options] will be consideration regarding the marketing of unhealthy foods to children while they’re at school. Consideration will be given to a ban on the sale or promotion of sweetened beverages on the premises of our schools,” Boyce said.

The ban is being contemplated in the wake of the introduction of a ten per cent tax on sweetened drinks in 2015, a levy that could be doubled, the minister said.

“I’ve been advised that increasing this tax to 20 per cent – and this is one of the suggestions that’s coming from the public – would be more beneficial to realizing the objectives of reducing demand,” he stated.

Addressing a regional meeting on childhood obesity last month, Boyce had pointed to the 2012 Global School Health Survey, which indicated that 32 per cent of students aged 13 -15 were obese, 14.4 per cent were overweight, and less than 30 per cent had been engaging in the daily recommended amount of physical activity.

He also revealed at the time that 70 per cent drank carbonated drinks at least once a day and nearly one in five (18 per cent) ate fast food three or more days weekly.   

This morning he told health officials and members of the private sector there was much room for improvement in relation to eating habits.

“Obesity levels are high, especially among women, and the vast majority of Barbadian adults, 25 years and over, have two or more risk factors for NCDs. Virtually no one in Barbados is risk-factor free,” the minister said, quoting from the 2015 Healthy Nations report.

“As a nation, as a society, we cannot continue on this path and hope to avoid negative outcomes.”

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Retail and Distribution Committee of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry Anthony Branker said while the Chamber supported the development of a culture of wellness, Barbadians needed better access to healthy, affordable food.

“Duties and taxes on healthy food should be minimized where possible to encourage healthy choices. Our current duty structure only makes distinctions as it relates to sugar products. It does not distinguish, for example, between brown rice and white rice.  And basically all our imported fruits pay significant duties. These are areas that we can look at immediately and bring an impact to the cost of eating healthy,” Branker told the meeting.

24 Responses to Government mulls ban on soft drinks in schools

  1. Ashanda Coward
    Ashanda Coward March 25, 2017 at 1:32 am

    Great move

  2. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce March 25, 2017 at 6:34 am

    Back to basics homemade Lemonade and Mauby.

    • Ashanda Coward
      Ashanda Coward March 25, 2017 at 7:50 am

      True Veroniva because the same money they take to buy a soda they can buy a few limes and I know nearly every house in Barbados has sugar.

  3. Richard Johnston March 25, 2017 at 7:05 am

    Do not be deceived by the “culture of wellness” baloney that is the inustry’s Plan B. The stuff is unhealthy and schools have no business promoting it in any fashion.

  4. Ricardo Bascombe
    Ricardo Bascombe March 25, 2017 at 7:19 am

    Ban the rum also when your at it

  5. Jennifer March 25, 2017 at 7:22 am

    I made some lovely Tamarind drink last night. No Sodium Benzoate and low sugar. Tamarind helps to reduce inflammation throughout the body, improve eye health, boost respiratory health, heal skin conditions, improve the digestive system, relieve pain, increase the strength of the immune system, reduce fever, lower cholesterol to improve cardiovascular health, treat piles, prevent cancer, and even protect children against parasites and worms. YUM YUM

  6. Bajan First March 25, 2017 at 7:23 am

    I hope the Government will have the courage to resist the pressure from the manufacturers and retailers and do what is necessary to protect the health of our children and by extension nation. We need laws banning the sale of sweeten beverages at schools, within the environs of schools and to children in uniform. This should be accompanied by a series of vigorous educational programmes in the media which target both parents and children. This effort should not focus only on beverages but should also include the sale of and consumption of the many unhealthy snacks which are sold to children or placed in their school bags by parents. If we are going to be serious about the health of our nation we need to act now in a serious and comprehensive manner

  7. Diana Cave
    Diana Cave March 25, 2017 at 7:30 am

    Good idea .. Children consume lots of sweet drinks adults as well which is very bad for their health . Cigarettes and rum want banning also , too many drunkards about the place , making themselves look shameful in public and at home
    If you smell some of them that consume rum their breath stinks and bodies some of them . If you see them sprawl out on side walks in shops , bars , head down dribbling saliva , yuk nasty sight
    I add in this because it’s falls in the same category .

  8. Lisa Moore
    Lisa Moore March 25, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Here waiting for the critics

  9. Ashanda Coward
    Ashanda Coward March 25, 2017 at 7:53 am

    The same amount of money they use to give or buy sodas for the kids they can buy limes, mauby bark etc and mix drink. Nearly every household in Bim has a sugar. So no excuses, I would repeat again, buying a $300 bag, $400 shoes and $1500 cell phone for kids and then they drink busta and eating chicken necks for breakfast on morning doesnt or would never make sense to me. The outside appearance is taken care of but putting junk on the inward man, total whacked. I am glad this step is being taken very glad.

  10. Richelle Bourne
    Richelle Bourne March 25, 2017 at 7:56 am

    Does this means the price of bottle water would depreciate? Don’t understand how you guys speak about healthy eating yet a water cost almost the same price as a drink and the don’t speak about tap water because many people pay close attention to our water system in certain parishes the water is not that safe to drink unless you purify it first.

  11. Sharon Taylor
    Sharon Taylor March 25, 2017 at 8:31 am

    Without sugar I hope!

  12. Frank White March 25, 2017 at 8:51 am

    This is the problem that ministers constantly make, they follow too much… First you must educate and not legislate… I totally disagree with increasing the vat on soft drinks when you can ban them all together… If you can’t ban them, lower the vat significantly on all heath products and promote these heath products in all schools, bulletin boards, exercise books and allow hawkers who will come on board to sell these products around the school compound, add an healthy living half hour class to all schools curriculum and change will gradually come… I would say this, if they want to make a fuss about carbonated beverages then a fuss should be made about fluoride in the water and toothpaste, aspartame in drink mix and chewing gum, msg in curry and in so called health products , butylated hydroxytoluene
    in breakfast cereal, propylene glycol which is a food thickener, an emulsifier and a stabilizer which are commonly used in fast food restaurants, rbgh1 that is found in milk and this list can go on… To top it off the hundreds of GMO foods…

    • Jennifer March 25, 2017 at 11:23 am

      @frank – Agreed – but this is a case of running from the gun and butting up into the bullet. This is why there is so much cancer, HTN, diabetes etc among this people. Mind you not to mention one production line for their people overseas and another one for third world countries, thereby helping to keep them unhealthy and the walking sick. And who sits allows it all – the politicians. People must be taught about these substances aka cancer causing chemicals which is found in some very leading brands from soups to gravy cubes, the list goes on. Those public health lot is just as bad too.

      • Jennifer March 25, 2017 at 11:30 am

        And all the Dentist that putting the FLOURIDE which is used as rat poison on the children teeth. Them educated lot.

  13. Dario jackman March 25, 2017 at 9:45 am

    This will have no change or lasting effect! Why not empliment a better health program in the schools, teach the kids the benefits of better eating, deiting ….get them more involed in fitness. Moderation is a great discipline, this would help with a better development of mentally and physically healthy generation… Without proper methods this ban will be absoultely ridiculous!

  14. seagul March 25, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Agriculture should be proudly promoted at schools etc. This is a science and to be conscious and be more concerned with the economic and social upliftment of the nation for the greater good.
    Let’s remember from a great educator, no race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in plowing a field as in writing a poem…

  15. Bajan First March 25, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Education will take a long time before the results are seen. The acquired taste for the unhealthy foods will not be easily erased not even though the most attractive educational activities and programmes. While these are important, regulations must be used to protect people from themselves

  16. jrsmith March 25, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    All who thinks this is a good idea , are we so stupid that we only do something when ( Trinidad ) do it …
    What the government need to do in barbados is to set precedence
    by acquiring sugar levels from testing bodies as like the (US) ( (Food and drug administration) which then would be enforced and displayed on all manufactured products bearing sugar in barbados ……….

  17. Frank White March 25, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    Acquiring sugar content for these products are good and the content of sugar on the bottle should be listed in teaspoons and not in grams… Why? Anyone can easily relate to teaspoons base of their own usage but not grams…

    • jennifer March 25, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      Jrsmith – the FDA is who approving the poisons in the food deaming them as safe levels. Mind u when u consume a collection of them in your body is it still SAFE ??? We need to make a start. As far as I know these drinks r not allowed in uk schools either. These politicians mature very slowly. I told u two paces slow and stop. We got tesco and waitrose products coming in here, I would bet they are of the second product line. Bare gimmicks in the trade.

  18. jennifer March 25, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    @Frank – well said. They need to simplify if they truly care.

  19. clint March 26, 2017 at 8:40 am

    Are you banning the sale of soft drinks or the consumption of soft drinks in schools? Now if you are using the american and british model, then the banning of these beverages through legislation is a waste. In the american schools where the banning of sweetened drinks is in force, students/parents buy on to a lunch plans. However, who is to stop parents from giving their children soft drinks to bring school? Really , education is the key with the hope in changing behaviours. Children’s eating habits start and are developed right there at home.

  20. Helicopter(8P) March 27, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Carbonated soft drink band is also married to a good sustainable health plan. Down the road people will be living longer lives so therefore we will have to have well planned geriatric care specialist!


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