YMCA Victoria will eliminate the sale of sugary drinks at all its recreation centres and facilities as part of a new healthy food and beverage policy launched today.
YMCA Victoria is committed to improving the health and happiness of communities and has developed the policy in consultation with the Victorian Department of Health's Healthy Together Victoria team, Nutrition Australia and Baker IDI.
The YMCA Victoria Healthy Food and Beverage Policy aims to improve the health of Victorians by improving the availability of healthy choices at all YMCAs and reducing the availability of less healthy choices.
There are 16 million visits to YMCA Victoria facilities per year, of which a large proportion are children. YMCA Victoria CEO Peter Burns said, "We are in a position to positively influence the eating behaviours of children and families through improving the food and drinks we provide.
"We sell 350,000 cans of soft drink, serve more than 400,000 meals through our camps and children’s services, and make over 2.5 million food transactions in our cafes and kiosks in community recreation centres every year."
Parliamentary Secretary for Health Georgie Crozier MLC commended YMCA Victoria for taking a leadership role in community health.
"Sugary drinks are a major contributor to weight gain, diabetes and the growing obesity epidemic. It's important that we highlight to young people that the average can of soft drink contains about 10 teaspoons of table sugar.
"As a key partner in Healthy Together Victoria, it’s great to see the YMCA sharing the vision of putting health at the centre of people’s lives where they live, work and play,” said Ms Crozier.
Associate Professor Anna Peeters, Head of Obesity and Population at the Health Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute said the YMCA Victoria policy is a national and international landmark.
"This policy demonstrates great leadership by the YMCA. We will be able to develop an evidence base for future organisations considering similar policies and the likely impact and potential health benefits through increased purchase and consumption of healthier food and drinks."
The Healthy Food and Beverage Policy will be implemented over three years in more than 150 locations including community recreation centres, residential camps, youth services, disability services and children services.
By 2017, YMCA Victoria aims to remove all sugar sweetened beverages and unhealthy food items from centres and services.
YMCA Victoria will work in collaboration with suppliers and local council partners to increase healthy options and reduce unhealthy ones.