Eight countries, several U.S. jurisdictions and eight Island countries and territories have implemented taxes on sugary drinks (Wikipedia). In 2016 the WHO urged all countries to impose a tax recommending 20%. Yet our politicians and health authorities seem to be asleep at the wheel on this issue. Jamie Oliver sums it up nicely.
And shame on the Auckland DHB for refusing to host the FIZZ conference at Auckland Hospital finding the issue too political! This sounds more like China heavying us about the Dalai Lama! Here is an example of the advice the Minister is getting from the Ministry of Health. This recent post reveals other dodgy policy stances from our government.
The mantra used by our politicians is that the evidence is not there. Don’t believe the spin. Its trickling in now and will soon be a flood. Here are some examples.
- A WHO report, Fiscal Policies for Diet and the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases claims a 20% tax results in a drop in sales.
- The Guardian reports that Mexico’s sugar consumption has fallen for a second year running.
- Deakin University research finds that sugar taxes benefit low income groups, debunking a common criticism of sugar taxes.
- Here is a link to the FIZZ sugar research page.
Meanwhile, the Obesity Update 2017 Report from the New England Journal of Medicine ranks New Zealand as third in the OECD for obesity rates at 30.7% behind the U.S. (38.2%) an Mexico (32.4%). Perhaps our politicians will wake up when we pass the Mexicans?
Spending the tax income
There are calls for the tax revenue to go to the health system, but that may be counter-productive until health professionals display more food system awareness than is evident now. Targeting the impacts of childhood poverty may generate the best impacts. In Mexico some of the revenue is spent on ensuring all schools have clean water supplies.
Ask your electoral candidates where they stand on a tax for sugary drinks.