News ID: 127625
Published: 0310 GMT September 26, 2015

New Zealanders favor tax on sugary drinks

New Zealanders favor tax on sugary drinks

New Zealanders are rapidly developing a taste for a tax on sugary drinks to offset the public health costs of obesity, according to a research.

The findings from two large-scale, nationwide surveys indicated most New Zealanders now supported a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), said Dr. Gerhard Sundborn, of the University of Auckland's School of Population Health, reported.

"A significant shift has occurred in New Zealanders' appetite for a tax on SSBs, if the funds collected [from the tax] are to be used to prevent childhood obesity," Sundborn said in a statement.

In the first of two polls, 18 months apart, in February last year, 44 percent of respondents supported a tax on sugary drinks, and in the second poll in June this year support was up to 52 percent — provided the funds from the tax were used to address childhood obesity.

"That's an 18-percent relative rise in favor of a tax," Sundborn said.

"Interestingly, there was an even stronger drop in people who opposed a tax on SSBs. Opposition to a SSB tax decreased relatively by 35 percent from 49 percent in February 2014 to 32 percent in June 2015," he said.

"This indicates a significant shift in public attitude towards the taxation of SSBs, because a quarter of respondents moved to a more supportive, or less opposed, stance about the introduction of an SSB tax.”

The speed at which public opinion has shifted in favor of an SSB tax indicated that New Zealanders were increasingly aware of the harms SSBs posed to health, especially for children.

"Strong media attention around SSBs may have facilitated this change as over the last two years, the harm that SSB intake poses to health, and the notion of a tax on SSBs, has been profiled regularly in mainstream media," he said.

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