19 May 2015

Councillors lukewarm on lolly limit

8:52 am on 19 May 2015

An Auckland councillor has described the idea of controlling the number of dairies as "totally overboard."

Lollies on a dairy shelf

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The suggestion has been made by the Auckland Regional Health Service in a report to Healthy Auckland Together, a group set up to combat obesity.

It plans to lobby for changes to the Resource Management Act to give councils the power to stop new dairies, convenience stores and takeaways being built, in the same way they can for alcohol outlets.

And it would like dairies to voluntarily limit what they sell to children.

Auckland children asked about the idea were unimpressed.

"I'd probably die ... because, well you kind of have to go to the supermarket cos they still sell stuff but dairies are better because they sell stuff that's cheaper," one said.

"It's kind of the highlight of our day because we've had a tough day," said another.

But they said they would probably start eating more healthily if they didn't have the access to junk food.

Auckland councillor Penny Webster said the suggestions were "totally overboard" and she would oppose them if they were put before the council.

"You can go to any gas station to buy lollies as well - and where do you stop and start?"

Councillor George Wood said it could turn into a costly exercise for a council many believe is already involved in too many activities.

But Arthur Anae, who has advocated for both a sugar tax and a fat tax, is in favour of the limits, saying the most important thing is the health of young people.

"We're well aware of the diabetic problem in New Zealand today and the world."

Voluntary agreements with dairy owners would be step in the right direction. "It can be done if there's a willingness there by the people to do it." said Mr Anae. "It may be an easier way than legislation."

Plans for dairies are only one part of the proposal, which is still being finalised by Healthy Auckland Together.

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