7 Dec 2009

Tax on fatty food and sugary drinks urged

8:31 pm on 7 December 2009

Health experts are calling for fatty food and sugary drinks to be taxed in the same way tobacco products are in New Zealand.

Experts told the Fat and Fags conference in Wellington on Monday that taxes could reduce consumption of sweet drinks as they did with tobacco use.

One speaker, Auckland University Emeritus Professor Robert Beaglehole, told the conference a small tax on sugary drink could mean less consumption.

Professor Beaglehole says taxes and other measures have helped combat tobacco use in New Zealand, and taxes have worked in some American states.

However, the Food and Grocery Council believes taxes would never work in New Zealand.

Council chief executive Katherine Rich says rules and regulations are less effective than practical measures, such as two baking firms recently volunteering to cut salt levels in bread.

The Government spends $70 million a year on programmes promoting healthy diet and exercise, but has shown little enthusiam for special taxes on fatty or sweet foods.