Children drinking a cup of fizzy or other sweetened drink a day shows ingrained habits undermine public health and that the National Government needs to tax sugar-sweetened drinks, the Green Party said today.
Whanau Pakari, a study from Taranaki about overweight children, showed the median intake of sweet drinks is 250mls a day, while some children are drinking two litres daily of sugary drinks.
“The Minister of Health needs to stand up for the health of all Kiwi kids, bring in a sugary drinks tax and pursue a comprehensive strategy to enable healthy eating,” Green Party health spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.
“When children are consuming such large amounts of sugar, it’s clear there will be problems down the line.
“Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity are all significant health problems for our health system to grapple with.
“We need to change the environment in which children and families are making their food choices. A sugary drinks tax, combined with other community and Government measures, are essential to improve child health.
“It's time to start using price to lower the consumption of harmful sugary drinks to help reduce diabetes and use the revenue to pay for the damage these products are doing to the health of our children.
“Improving children’s teeth and reducing chronic disease is not just a matter of personal choices. National needs to step up, acknowledge the evidence on sugar tax and play its part in enabling children to do well.
“Taxing sugary drinks to help curb obesity will help children’s health – it’s an approach adopted by the governments of the UK, Mexico, France and Norway, and it’s promoted globally by the World Health Organisation as well the Government’s own Chief Science Advisor Sir Peter Gluckman.
“We need to put the health and wellbeing of children ahead of the interests of the junk food industry,” Ms Genter said.