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Govt called on to curb sugary drinks

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/12/2016

Soft drinks © AP Soft drinks Two major New Zealand health watchdogs are calling on the government to introduce recommendations and taxes around sugar-filled drinks.

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) are suggesting for a 20 per cent tax on sugary beverages, while the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) are suggesting a label indicator on packaging; for example a 600ml bottle of fizzy drink would state that it 'contains 16 teaspoons of sugar'.

NZDA spokesman Dr Rob Beaglehole said earlier in the week he had to remove all of an 18-month-old's teeth because of damage caused by sugary drinks.

"This child is going to have to wait another four years before his permanent teeth come through. He'll have problems socialising, he'll have problems eating, and he'll have problems speaking."

The NZDA also recommend six other actions, including urging the government to adopt World Health Organisation guidelines on limiting sugar, and nationwide social marketing campaigns such as 'Switch to Water'.

The NZMA says the over-consumption of sugar is a massive factor contributing obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.

"Sugar-sweetened beverages are a major source of sugar in the diet," says NZMA Chair Dr Stephen Child.

"And vulnerable populations most at risk are most responsive to changes in the relative prices of food and beverages."

The NZMA are also calling for money from the tax to be used in programmes to tackle obesity and other health issues.

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