A nutritional scientist believes a tax on sugary drinks will force low-income Maori and Pasifika families to stop buying them.
Some of New Zealand's leading academics believe there is a direct link between diets high in sugar and obesity.
They believe a 20 percent tax on non-alcoholic drinks would avert or postpone about 67 deaths a year.
Otago University nutritional scientist Lisa Te Morenga told Nine to Noon a tax would encourage Maori and Pasifika to think differently about whether to buy the product.
The families tended to be of low social economic status and would have less disposable income for buying unnecessary foods, such as soft drinks, Dr Te Morenga said.
A tax would change the way Maori and Pasifika whanau spent their money, she said
However, there was also a risk families could decide to keep spending money on sugary drinks and less on healthy foods.