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Sugar poll: cut serving sizes rather than impose tax

Sugar poll: cut serving sizes rather than impose tax

More than 880,000 adult New Zealanders believe they or someone in their household have developed health problems as a result of consuming sugar.

However, they prefer reducing the amount of sugar in drinks and reducing the size of sugar-containing drinks to imposing a sugar tax to deter demand.

A new survey this month of 3,451 adult New Zealanders finds the equivalent of 880,700 adults nationwide believe they or someone in their household have developed health problems including ones like diabetes, impaired immune system, tooth decay and deadly diseases like cancer and heart diseases as a result of consuming too much sugar.

16% of adults believe their health has suffered as a result of consuming too much sugar and 12.6% say someone in their household has.

The belief that the health of someone in the household has suffered is held in the equivalent of 426,000 of the country's 1.55 million households.

Another university study published last week concluded a 20% tax on sugar drinks might reduce consumption sufficiently to save 16 lives a year.

The Horizon Research study, undertaken between January 24 and February 14, finds consumers prefer sugar portion control over taxes.

· Some 77.2% favour a limit of sugar in drinks (45.7% definitely and 31.5% possibly), while 18.4% oppose this idea (13.1% saying definitely not). That’s the equivalent of 2.468 million adults for a sugar limit, 588,000 against.

· Reducing the size of servings of drinks containing sugar is favoured by 58.5% (28.7% definitely for this, 29.8% possibly for) and opposed by 35.5% (21.7% definite, 12.8% possibly opposed). That’s the equivalent of 1,870,000 adults for smaller drink sizes and 1,135,000 against.

Taxing sugar content of drinks is favoured by 44.2% overall (16% definite, 26.2% possibly for) and opposed by 49% (36% definitely against, 13.1% possibly). That is the equivalent of 1,570,000 million against, 1,413,500 for.

A majority are against a tax on the sugar content of take away foods:

· 51.5% are opposed (14.9% definitely not, 29.8% possibly) while 40% support (18.2% definitely, 21.9% possibly not). That’s the equivalent of ,1.647 million adults nationwide against, 1,282,000 for.

An unnamed Australian law firm has advertised in New Zealand for people who believe they have been harmed by sugar in cola drinks to join a class action.

Those who do would not face any costs unless a class action were won.

The Horizon study finds the equivalent of 499,000 adults saying they would “definitely” join a class action to sue cola makers on this basis.

Respondents are members of Horizon’s HorizonPoll national online panel, recruited to match the 18+ population, Survey results are weighted by age, gender, ethnicity, educational qualifications and party voted for at the 2011 general election to provide a representative sample of the adult population. At a 95% confidence level, the maximum margin of error is +/- 1.7%.

The study was commissioned by Horizon.


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