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Media fizz over proposed drinks tax

Media fizz over proposed drinks tax

The press is abuzz today following a the publication of a study supporting a tax on carbonated beverages.

The authors of the New Zealand Medical Journal study say a tax intervention will improve health, save lives and increase revenue for other health initiatives.

The research, led by Professor Cliona Ni Mhurchu from the University of Auckland, analyses the potential impact of a 20% tax on carbonated beverages. Drawing on overseas research, the authors conclude that such a tax in New Zealand would save 67 lives per year and generate revenue of up to $40 million.

"Given its cost-effectiveness, a 20% tax on carbonated drinks could be a simple, effective component of a multifaceted strategy to tackle New Zealand's high burden of diet-related disease," the authors write.

Further explanation from the Professor Ni Mhurchu and her colleagues can be found on the Public Health Expert blog, where they note:

"Some might question whether academic researchers should be assessing the impact of inherently political decisions. However, it is abundantly clear that the major drivers of increasing obesity rates are upstream, stemming from changes in our food environment. Politicians and the general public should be concerned about this, and keen to act."

The research comes ahead of the FIZZ symposium in Auckland next week, where researchers and public health doctors will meet to discuss the the impact of sugar sweetened beverages in New Zealand, and solutions to the health problems they pose.

The Science Media Centre approached other public health researchers for comment ahead of the symposium.

Prof Elaine Rush, Professor of Nutrition, Faculty of Health and Environmental Science, AUT University commented:

"Some particular foods are over consumed by some people and do not belong in a healthy diet. If something should be removed from the diet, a clear target and example is sugary drinks. There is no need for sugar to be added to beverages and particularly for children there are huge problems with sweet drinks and tooth decay.

Further commentary on sugar and a round-up of media coverage can be found on the Science Media Centre website.


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