Naenae community market says ‘no’ to junk food and fizzy drinks

Moira Hunt and Manaia Hunt, 3, tried the wraps. The Naenae community market is encouraging vendors to only sell healthy food..

NICHOLAS BOYACK/STUFF

Moira Hunt and Manaia Hunt, 3, tried the wraps. The Naenae community market is encouraging vendors to only sell healthy food..

Healthy food is on the menu at a Naenae community market which has taken the step of discouraging junk food and sugary drinks.

The move is being applauded by nutritionist Claire Turnbull, who said she was not aware of any other market that had taken a similar approach.

Research showed “normalising” healthy food was  the key to getting people to make better food choices.

Karen Wilson, Charlie Te-Wara and Raiden Faulkner, 2. Although the Naenae market encourages healthy food options, Charlie was enjoying a pie.

NICHOLAS BOYACK/STUFF

Karen Wilson, Charlie Te-Wara and Raiden Faulkner, 2. Although the Naenae market encourages healthy food options, Charlie was enjoying a pie.

In poorer areas like Naenae, there were typically a lot of junk food outlets and residents, particularly children, did not have access to healthy options, she said.

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The key to reducing obesity was giving residents access to affordable fruit and vegies.

Bharat Patel had a wide range of vegetables for Naenae residents.

NICHOLAS BOYACK/STUFF

Bharat Patel had a wide range of vegetables for Naenae residents.

If children grew up thinking foods high in salt, sugar and fats were normal, that was the food they would always choose to eat, she said.

The council backed market started in response to a community survey of 800 residents, following the closure of their local supermarket.

Initially set to run for six weeks, it proved such a success it was extended to the end of November.

Isuru Polpola did a roaring trade selling roti wraps, including a vegan option, at the Naenae market. Market organisers encourage vendors to sell healthy options and no sugary drinks.

NICHOLAS BOYACK/STUFF

Isuru Polpola did a roaring trade selling roti wraps, including a vegan option, at the Naenae market. Market organisers encourage vendors to sell healthy options and no sugary drinks.

Food vendors were asked to commit to selling food that includes fruit and vegetables, promoting water as a drink and minimising fat, sugar and salt.

Vendors had also been reminded that deep fried food, fizzy drinks and sugary treats were unhealthy.

Team Naenae Trust chair Lillian Pak said that with so many fast food outlets in the shopping centre, the market aims to give residents a healthy alternative.

Angus Gibb was part of the entertainment at the Naenae market.

NICHOLAS BOYACK/STUFF

Angus Gibb was part of the entertainment at the Naenae market.

As well as discouraging junk food, the organisers want to encourage fruit and vegetable vendors. In the long run she would like to see locals growing their own produce and selling it at the market.

Turnbull had worked in South Auckland and said that in poorer communities the lack of access to cheap healthy food is one of the main causes of obesity.

Organisers of the market were to be congratulated for taking such a bold step and she would like to see other markets take the same approach.

Research released in July by Auckland University found a direct link between the availability of junk food with high levels of obesity, diabetes and mental health issues.

“People choose their diets from the food environments around them and when these are dominated by unhealthy foods and drinks, it is no surprise that our overall diets are unhealthy and our obesity rates are so high,” said Professor Boyd Swinburn who led the 3-year study funded by the Health Research Council and the Heart Foundation. 

The research found that in poorer areas like Naenae there are three times as many takeaways, fast food outlets and convenience stores, more ads for unhealthy foods around schools and more shelf space devoted to unhealthy foods in dairies.

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