The majority of New Zealanders now support a tax on sugary drinks. That is according to public health advisory group FIZZ (Fighting Sugar in Soft-drinks), which published its findings from two large-scale surveys in the 25 September issue of the New Zealand Medical Journal (NZMJ). According to the authors “a significant shift has occurred in New Zealanders’ appetite for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), if the funds collected are to be used to prevent obesity.”
There is strong political support, from parties outside government, for action to address SSBs, the paper says. A policy brief by the New Zealand Beverage Guidance Panel has been endorsed by the Green, Labour and Māori parties. The brief “Options to reduce sugar sweetened beverage consumption in New Zealand” outlines 20 suggested initiatives to address the issue.
New Zealand has the third highest rage of childhood obesity in the developed world1. In their NZMJ article the authors cite a recent study, which conservatively attributes a high sugary drink intake to 561 deaths in Australasia every year2. This is equivalent to 40% of the region’s annual road toll.
“It seems inevitable […] that an SSB tax will be a major part of reclaiming our children’s health, considering the growing public support for its implementation,” say the authors of the NZMJ paper. “The only question that remains is when.”
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OECD, OECD Obesity Update 2014. 2014. www.oecd.org/health/ obesity- update.htm
Singh G, Micha R, Khatibzadeh S, Lim S, Ezzati M, Mozaffarian D. Estimated Global, Regional, and National Disease Burdens Related to Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption in 2010. Circulation. June 29, 2015.