Health Minister Jonathan Coleman needs to listen to the growing chorus of health experts who are calling for immediate action on obesity-related disease, the Green Party said today.
Seventy leading public health specialists have asked the Government to implement a tax on sugary drinks to tackle New Zealand's high rates of childhood obesity – amongst the highest in the world according to a recent Lancet report.
“The Government has it wrong when it comes to fighting childhood obesity and needs to start listening to the experts,” said Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague.
“One-in-four Kiwis over 15 have diabetic or pre-diabetic symptoms and the National Government is failing to offer effective solutions to prevent this from becoming a major public health disaster.
“The health bill alone for treating preventable diabetes will be over $2 billion by 2021.
“An urgent and wide-ranging response is required, rather than the Government’s weak wait-and see approach.
“Diabetes will swamp us while National wait for a so-called perfect solution to this major public health issue.
“We have strong evidence already that taxing sugary drinks is an effective way to limit its consumption.
“It’s time to start treating the disease of diabetes like smoking-related cancers and use targeted taxes to reduce consumption and pay for the damage sugary drinks are doing to the health of our children,” said Mr Hague.