A new study has found that kids in New Zealand have a problem with eating and drinking fruit snacks.
“I think we need to make a decision now as to what we are going to do about that,” said John Taylor, a spokesperson for New Zealand’s Department of Health.
New Zealand is the second country in the world to ban fruit snacks altogether, following the United Kingdom, which passed the ban in July.
There’s no evidence to support the notion that kids are more likely to binge drink when they eat fruit, Taylor said, and the evidence shows kids in the UK have the same amount of alcohol consumption as kids in other developed countries.
“It’s important to remember that there’s a lot of evidence that alcohol and eating habits are very different, that kids who drink fruit snacks tend to be more interested in other food, and that kids tend to eat more of other foods than other kids.”
Taylor said the ban was being implemented in response to “a real problem” in the country’s youth.
More than a third of the nation’s youth are currently under 18, and more than a quarter of those are between 15 and 17, according to data from the Ministry of Health and Ageing.
In 2015, New Zealand had one of the highest rates of binge drinking in the developed world, according a 2015 report by the British Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
The country has also been hit by the Zika virus, and many residents are in the process of returning home, which has led to increased alcohol consumption.
The ban will be phased in over the next year, and Taylor said he expects the number of children in the ban to decrease.
The department said it was working with food retailers and local authorities to develop guidelines and develop advertising campaigns to educate the public about the new policy.