09 December 2016

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) is calling on the Government to put in place a tax of 20% or more on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).

In a position statement released today, the NZMA points out the over-consumption of sugar is a contributor to obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. “SSBs are a major source of sugar in the diet,” says NZMA Chair Dr Stephen Child. “And vulnerable populations most at risk are most responsive to changes in the relative prices of food and beverages.”

The NZMA has previously called for a suite of measures as part of a comprehensive approach to tackling New Zealand’s obesity epidemic. “We believe that there are now sufficient grounds to develop and implement a tax on SSBs,” says Dr Child. “For example, the recent report back from the WHO’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity included a tax on SSBs as one of its key recommendations.”

The NZMA also calls for a proportion of the revenue from the excise tax to be earmarked for programmes to tackle obesity and other health issues, and for continuing research and evaluation of the effectiveness of the tax.