20 Feb 2014

Tax and limited access could cut Pacific's use of sugary drinks

4:33 pm on 20 February 2014

Imposing excise tax on drinks contaning sugar and limiting their access are some ways health experts want to see sugary drinks phased out from the Pacific.

A number of health experts, university professors, dentists and dietitians met at a symposium in Auckland to discuss how to make the Pacific Sugary Drink Free by 2030.

The co-ordinator of the Pacific Research Centre for the Prevention of Obesity and Non-communicable diseases is Dr Wendy Snowden.

She says pricing up the drinks, by imposing an excise tax on drinks containing sugar, would be a key approach to tackling the issue.

Dr Snowden says political will is key, and there are a number of Pacific nations that are already doing a lot of good.

"There's countries that have limited access in schools, they've taken them all out of vending machines, the sugary drink, there are countries that have implemented higher taxes on soft-drink, and lowered the taxes on water so to shift the balance between those as well. So there has been a lot of political will to do something about improving diet in the islands but there's more work that needs to be done. "

Dr Wendy Snowden says people choose the cheapest option, and bottled water is generally more expensive than fizzy drinks.