10 Dec 2016

Govt will listen on sugar tax - Medical association

12:16 pm on 10 December 2016

The New Zealand Medical Association is calling for a 20 percent tax on sugary drinks.

Generic. Teenager drinks soft drink.

Photo: 123RF

Two years ago it suggested the tax in an article in the medical journal, but said it needed more evidence.

It said it now had enough evidence showing that an over-consumption of sugar massively contributed to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.

Association chair Stephen Child said he was optimistic the government, which has been supportive in the past, would listen.

Stephen Child, chair of the NZ Medical Association

New Zealand Medical Association chair Stephen Child Photo: SUPPLIED

"The World Health Organisation states that the level of sugar consumption should be less than or equal to six tablespoons per day," he said.

"Yet the average consumption in New Zealand is closer to 22 to 25 tablespoons per day and in some countries is as high as 41."

However, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said in April there was no proof such a tax would work, and suggested there could be "substitution effects" with people drinking different drinks instead.

Mr Child said that under the association's proposal, any revenue from the tax would be reinvested in anti-obesity programmes.

He said vulnerable populations were historically responsive to changes in the prices of food and drink.

In November, a new 10 percent tax on sugary tax in Mexico has been predicted to save almost 19,000 lives and save its health system nearly $1 billion dollars over the next decade.

In July, RNZ revealed more than $260 million of taxpayers' money is invested in fast-food brands and soft drink giants.

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