Kiwi families say no to 50 tonnes of sugar

Foodstuffs says that its school-based Food for Thought nutrition education programme has resulted in New Zealand families reducing their sugar intake from soft drinks alone by a massive 50 tonnes.
Over the last decade children in years 5 and 6 have been taken through a programme in the classroom and then in a real world PAK’nSAVE, New World or Four Square supermarket. The programme, which is delivered by a team of Food for Thought Nutritionists and the Heart Foundation Nutrition Advisors, teaches children to differentiate between ‘every day’ foods and ‘sometimes’ foods with higher sugar and salt levels, and encourages children to choose more every day options.
“To date we’ve had more than 141,000 New Zealand school children go through Food for Thought in their classrooms and in our stores, learning and practising how to make better food choices. The great pay-off is that they then share their knowledge with their families – to dramatic effect,” says Steve Anderson, Managing Director Foodstuffs New Zealand.
Foodstuffs recently conducted a research study looking at the impact of the Food for Thought programme on participants and their families. The study measured the change in purchas behaviour in families who had a child go through Food for Thought. “The results are really encouraging – so much so, that we have committed to doubling the size of the programme with an aim to be in every primary school in New Zealand.
Prior to their children going through the programme, families were more likely than the research control group to shop in ‘unhealthy’ categories – which include soft drinks, snack foods and confectionery. Post the programme, the study showed that Food for Thought Families reduced their purchases by 3 percent in this category. There was a 7 percent reduction in the soft drink category, and a 2 percent reduction in confectionery as a share of their total shop.
“It’s all about making it fun to make the right choice,” says Mr Anderson. “While everything we do is based on facts, we get the children to understand simple things like how many spoons of sugar are in the average 1 litre bottle of soft drink. They are honestly shocked and it makes them think twice.
“The programme is not about banning treat foods, it’s about helping children make more informed choices. That they share this with their families means that the programme exposes thousands more New Zealanders to better ideas about the food and beverages which end up in their fridge and pantry.”