(Trinidad Guardian) When the new school term opens in September, all sugary drinks including soft drinks will be banned from schools across the country. Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the move was aimed at converting schools to healthy zones.
Deyalsingh was speaking to the media after addressing attendees at a one-week residential camp hosted by the Diabetes Association of T&T at the Preysal Secondary School yesterday. President Anthony Carmona and his wife, Reema Carmona, also attended the event, where she delivered the feature address.
“We have to recognise that we have a crisis on our hands when it comes to juvenile diabetes and childhood obesity, one of the drivers of that is an unhealthy lifestyle,” Deyalsingh said.
“An awareness campaign will be part of the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) programme we are rolling out. It has started already, we have already conducted the Body Mass Index (BMI) study of over 5,000 students which started last year and we have banned the sale of sugary drinks in schools, we are already doing the Diabetes in Pregnancy programme, so all of these things have already started and more and more initiatives will be rolled out.
“So a part of the Non-Communicable Diseases programme is to encourage children to lead a healthier lifestyle, which includes what they drink, what they eat and how they exercise or don’t exercise.”
Deyalsingh said healthier options are to be introduced in schools instead. Through the programme, the Health Ministry will also seek to change the menus of free school meals provided by the Ministry of Education.
He said energy drinks are also going to be banned.
“It also includes the banning of the sale of energy drinks, we have to recognise that too many of our young people are drinking too many of these energy drinks which are not good for them, so we are also banning that from school cafeterias, especially for our secondary school children.”
While energy drinks will remain for sale on the open market, Deyalsingh said the ministry will be launching a public education to show the dangers of consuming those drinks.