Dentist encourages all marae to be sugar-free

By Korōria Taumaunu

Dentist Rob Beaglehole is calling for a ban on sugary drinks, not only at schools but also at the marae. At the Childhood Obesity Health Seminar in Te Puke, diet experts are saying sugar is killing Māori.

Obesity is high on the agenda as the number of obese children continue to grow.

“I was shocked on the statistics, it's a high percentage, I remember at school and in kōhanga reo with in Tauranga we would see a lot of children who were overweight they would find it hard at school and during sports,” says Graham Bidois-Cameron from Ngāti Ranginui.

According to the Ministry of Health, one in nine children is obese.  Dentist Rob Beaglehole schools and marae free of sugary drinks are the ideal.

“Wouldn't it be great for all the Marae in the region to have a policy where no sugary drinks with provided for on the Marae premises, that will be a first, that will be a New Zealand lead no other region in New Zealand has united all the Marae together on one policy,” says Dentist Rob Beaglehole.

Obesity amongst Māori is huge however Beaglehole says that in pre-colonial time this was never the case, “I used the word colonisation and I think that's quite important to realise that before pākeha came to New Zealand there was no type 2 diabetes, there was no obesity, there was no tooth decay and that's because there was no sugar.”

The aim here today is about educating the next generation to make health choices.