Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman needs to stand up for the health of all Kiwi kids, recognise he got it wrong, and move to implement a sugary drinks tax, the Green Party said today.
The New Zealand Dental Association and its partner organisations, including Diabetes NZ and the Cancer Society, have today issued a joint statement calling for a sugary drinks tax, to help combat our growing childhood obesity problem.
“The way this is going, the Minister of Health will be the last person left in New Zealand who doesn’t think a sugary drinks tax will help our kids’ health,” Green Party health spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.
“When it comes to determining the effects of sugar on kids’ health, and whether a drinks tax would help combat that, I’d take the advice of dentists, Diabetes NZ and the Cancer Society over junk-food apologists any day of the week.
“In the House yesterday, the Minister admitted that he had referred to an unpublished, non peer-reviewed, industry-funded report to question the peer-reviewed evidence on the effectiveness of a sugary drinks tax.
“The Minister also seemed not to have read the direct advice he received from the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, which, contrary to Coleman's assertions, was clear there is new strong evidence of the sustained impact and benefit of a sugary drinks tax in protecting health.
“A sugary drinks tax could help save lives by reducing diabetes, strokes, obesity, and cardiovascular damage. It’s proven to work overseas and it could work here too.
“We need the Minister of Health to put the health and wellbeing of children ahead of the interests of the junk food industry.
“The Green Party backs a sugary-drink tax, which has been implemented in many countries around the world and is backed by the World Health Organisation as an important tool in the fight for children’s health,” Ms Genter said.