UCD has ceased the sale of sugary drinks across all of its food and drink outlets. It is the first move of its kind in Ireland.
While drinks with high levels of sugar will be banned, their low-calorie alternatives will continue to be available across the 16 food and drink outlets. Campus shops reported a seven per cent spike in the purchase of such products.
A statement from the university said: “Only drinks identified as containing caloric sugar additives that would be subject to the recently introduced sugar tax have been removed from campus outlets and vending machines.”
The measure was put forward by Healthy UCD. A trial was commenced in January of this year to stop the sale of drinks with high levels of sugar, such as Monster and Red Bull for a seven-week period.
Healthy UCD is an initiative aligned to the Government sponsored by the Healthy Ireland project and HSE in an effort to promote the World Health Organisation’s “Healthy Campus” concept.
Results from the trial concluded that three-quarters of students reported that they did not notice the change, with most of those surveyed opting for healthier alternatives in the interim.
The summary of the trial noted: “The results of the trial suggests that changes to the retail environment can go unnoticed, and that consumer behaviour can change without conscious awareness.”
It also found that the majority of students supported or did not oppose the permanent removal of drinks containing a high sugar content.
Second-year Architecture student at UCD, Dylan Reilly, believes that an axe of the sale of the beverages should not be imposed. He considers the matter should be up to students themselves to make their own decisions.
“It’s nice to see the college making moves towards healthier living. However, students are adults and are more than capable of making their own health and lifestyle decisions,” said Reilly. “If someone has a craving for one sugary drink every so often I don’t think it’s any harm and often the lower calorie options do not satisfy that craving.”
“As well as that, many students depend on sugary drinks like Red Bull to help get them through long study sessions. I agree that the trial went unnoticed amongst students and this suggests to me that the majority of student are not abusing sugary drinks, so what harm?
“There are alternative ways to promote healthy living without inhibiting students, such as the free gym that UCD provide all students,” Reilly said.
Healthy UCD is concerned with the development and improvement of lifelong habits and attitude for learning, welfare, community awareness, health and wellbeing of individuals. The moves falls into line with Ireland becoming one of the leading countries to tax sugary drinks this year, along with France, Mexico and the UK.
By Catherine Gallagher
Image credit: Donal Murphy Photography