20 Feb 2014

Health advocates push for a Sugary Drink Free Pacific by 2030

3:13 pm on 20 February 2014

A number of health experts, university professors, dentists and dietitians are wanting the Pacific to be free of sugary drinks by 2030.

The delegates gathered at a symposium in Auckland, aimed at reducing the consumption of drinks like fizz, cordials, flavoured milks and energy drinks in the Pacific and New Zealand.

The delegates say sugar sweetened beverages, or SSBs are major contributors to obesity, diabetes, rotten teeth and gout.

The co-ordinator of the Pacific Reserach Centre for the Prevention of Obesity and Non-communicable diseases, Dr Wendy Snowden, says the main problems are a high availability of sugary drinks at a low price, with heavy marketing for them.

"In a lot of the Pacific Island countries, access to drinking water is a problem, certainly in some locations, so you do need access to bottled drinks. The water is generally more expensive than bottled soft-drinks or canned soft-drinks then people choose the cheaper options. They are readily available, they are heavily marketed, there's good reasons why people are drinking a lot of them.

Dr Wendy Snowden says pricing up the drinks, by imposing an excise tax on drinks containing sugar, would be a key approach to tackling the issue.