Sugary Drinks Ban For All Schools

HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff

HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff

Reader poll

Do you support a sugary drinks ban at government healthcare facilities and public schools?

  • Yes, I support a ban. 88%
  • No, I do not. 12%

143 total votes.


Deputy Chief Reporter


A SUGARY drinks ban at government healthcare facilities and public schools will come into effect on December 1, according to Health Minister Dr Duane Sands. “People are killing themselves,” Dr Sands said bluntly of the rationale behind the ban yesterday.

“We like to juice with nothing on. We like to eat sweet, savoury, fatty, juicy food. We like to drink liquor. We like to smoke. We like plenty things which we know ain’t good for us.”

Initially, government considered a sugary drinks tax, but this was trumped by a ban that had been planned for October 1. However, due to Hurricane Dorian’s devastation, the ministry made a decision to delay the restriction. With one in seven of the population suffering from diabetes among other non-communicable diseases, Dr Sands suggested the ban should have come much sooner as tell-tale signs of an unhealthy nation are everywhere.

While it may be easy to remove unhealthy drink options from the Ministry of Health and health care facilities, it won’t be as easy to regulate what children in schools drink, Dr Sands said.

This is because not only are these sugary drinks available elsewhere, they’ll be mere feet from public school campuses where private vendors offer a wide variety of sugary and salty food and drink options.

These vendors “prey” on young people to gain profits, the minister said.

“The (lunch vendors) are not the culprits because that’s already a part of their contract,” Dr Sands said. “The lunch vendors have an explicit specific menu that they are supposed to adhere to. They are not the problem.

“The culprits are the people sitting outside of the gate. The culprit is the Parent Teacher Association who brings doughnuts to sell to raise money and sodas to sell to raise money.

“If you go by any government school on any morning and you look and see what people are selling their response is: ‘We’re trying to make an honest living. We aren’t killing anyone or harming anyone. Hey, you need to deal with the people who shooting and stabbing and raping and killing.’

“(But) what they are doing is preying on young people.”

“This is a complicated issue,” he continued.

“But the things they sell are sweet, salty, savoury, sugary, because that is what people want and it’s feeding their addiction.

“So once we get that started now it’s impossible to stop.”

As a deterrent to student purchases, Dr Sands said these vendors may be forced to set up substantially further from school campuses.

However, he admitted that the problem will never completely stop.

“What we can do is we can ramp up the educational campaign as well as you make it harder. So if it’s 100 feet (away from the school now) maybe they have to be 200 feet away.

“You will never stop it because this is about trying to push back the tide but we have to push and even if we reduce consumption by five percent or seven percent we are going to save lives.”

The 2019 STEPS Survey revealed that 60 percent of Bahamians add two or more spoons of sugar to tea and coffee; 32 percent eat “sweets” three or more times per week; and 92 percent of Bahamians drink one to three cans of a sugary beverage every single day.

When the survey was released in August, Dr Sands said in a one-year span, the average Bahamian consumes 64 pounds of added or discretionary sugar.

It means that people in the Bahamas consumer more sugar than Americans who consume 52 pounds of sugar every year according to a 2015 US Department of Agriculture study

Dr Sands noted this “propensity for sweet” is not matched by the nation’s daily water intake nor fruit and vegetable intake.

Less than 50 percent of Bahamians drink the recommended eight or more glasses of water each day, “although water is readily accessible, relatively affordable and available as no-cost substitutes on many fast food menus,” the health minister noted.

Additionally, only 15 percent of the population eats the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables.


joeblow 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Such a ban won't stop parents from allowing their children to have a soda with their fast food breakfast, post school snack or dinner. The majority of people with children have no idea of what is required to PROPERLY raise children in terms of diet, hygiene and morals.

Why not increase the duty on high sugar AND high salt products (chips etc) and implement a national lunch program created by dietitians so children can have at least one proper meal per day? BAMSI could supply the vegetable!


killemwitdakno 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Went to Solomons for health chips and nuts and they’re $8 for a small bag. I don’t think the stores know what the health foods are to not sin price them.


tell_it_like_it_is 6 months, 4 weeks ago

For once, I support something Sands is doing. A ban in the schools is definitely a start. They need to ban schools selling candies as well.
If the parents want to kill their children through poor dietary choices, the schools don't have to help in the process!


Islandboy242242 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Bahamians don't eat the recommended fruits and vegetables but has anybody seen the price of fruits and vegetables drop? Were Fresh apples and oranges, spinach and romaine ever added to the Breadbasket?


ohdrap4 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Apples are now vat free. Maybe spinach. That does not make them affordable, only makes them relatively cheaper.

As for sugary drink tax, they charge 40% duty on drinks already, so a 13 oz bottle of juice is over 2.00. How much more tax they wznt?


Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Sands needs to push for much more to be done, and he should have the strong support of Minnis as a professional colleague who is well aware of the serious health issues facing our society as a result of poor dietary habits caused by unhealthy foods and drinks being much more readily available and much less costly than healthy foods and drinks.

There will be no noticeable decline in the increasing prevalence of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease and many types of cancer unless and until the duty rate is increased to: (1) 100% or more on all forms of raw sugar and all food and drink products containing any form of sugar and/or high fructose based sweeteners; and (2) at least 200% on all food and drink products containing any type of artificial sweetener. At the same time duty rates must be significantly reduced on all healthy food and drink products, especially fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, nuts, frozen fish, etc.


The_Oracle 6 months, 4 weeks ago

You cannot legislate to alter behavior if the Behavior is already entrenched and economically supported. One look at the criminal code and recidivism tells any fool that. The law is to keep honest people honest. Sugar is as addictive as Crack, and takes a serious effort to break as a habit. I'd like to see the Government balance their budget and seriously reduce graft and political corruption before they delve into my personal choices. Perhaps if he set an example by avoiding Starbucks or at least Jogged there every morning?


Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Unfortunately legislating to alter behaviour may be the only option given that our successive corrupt governments have been quite content to saddle many in our society with an overall D minus grade upon their graduation from our failed public education system.


The_Oracle 6 months, 3 weeks ago

But as has been often shown and proven, legislation without implementation or enforcement is pointless. It is our predominant and consistent failure.


Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Fully agree with you on the enforcement side of things.

Our corrupt politicians usually selectively enforce the laws only when they want to maliciously victimize someone who has called them out in a big way. Otherwise, it's pretty much a free for all no matter what they may have legislated as law. We have become the very definition of a society with many laws and much lawlessness.


killemwitdakno 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Are y’all being advised on this? You know sugar is needed right? Should still be allowed in the vending machines and if they bring them. Also if you purchase. But it doesn’t have to be a lunch meal option.

So what are the low sugar diabetics supposed to find?

How about teach nutrition, condoms,and self discipline in health class rather than controlling.

The correct term is “sugar added” by the way.

I can’t imagine the end of cup because the heat will kill you faster.


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