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Processed food like tobacco industry - scientists

Wednesday 13 Feb 2013 11:06 a.m.

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Scientists are calling on the Government to regulate the ultra-processed food industry in New Zealand, comparing it to the tobacco business.

The call comes after a coroner’s report found a woman's addiction to Coca-Cola contributed to her death in 2010.

Natasha Harris, 30, drank up to 10 litres of coke a day.

Professor Sally Casswell from Massey University told Firstline about the effects a high sugar intake can have on the body.

“The research is very clear that that level of sugar intake will contribute to premature mortality and sugar is an addictive substance and its very hard, once you get into that sort of level of intake, to cut back.”

She says the processed food and meat try industry tries to influence Government policy in the same way tobacco companies have done.

“I think people are less aware about how the alcohol and the ultra-processed food industry are doing the same sorts of things,” Ms Casswell says.

“People are less aware that [these companies] shouldn’t be able to influence government policy.”

She says these industries are trying to prevent effective regulation but the only way to prevent the negative effects of these products is Government regulation.

“They can actually put taxes on them, to make these sorts of products less accessible. Availability, how easily available they are - these are the sorts of changes we need to see happening.”

Ms Casswell worries that priorities are wrong.

“The business interests of the big transnational corporations are taking precedence over the health of the population.”

She says in the future certain ingredients should be taxed, such as sugar and fat.

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