US study finds more people give up fizzy drinks if sugar tax applied

A new study has found more people forego sugary fizzy drinks in places where taxes on them have been introduced.  

Health advocates here say it's more proof that sugar taxes work.

Sugary drinks are still a favourite for many Kiwis, despite calls for people to cut back on sugar.

But cities with a soda tax saw the sale of sugary drinks fall dramatically, a US study has found in the journal JAMA Health Forum.

It found soft drink prices went up by 33 percent on average, while purchases went down the same amount. 

"This study from the States is yet another study that indicates that the New Zealand Government needs to instigate a sugary drink tax," said Dr Rob Beaglehole, spokesperson for the New Zealand Dental Association

He told Newshub sweet drinks account for more than a quarter of Kiwi kids' sugar intake.

"The only thing that's contained in sugary drinks is fizzy water, some nasty chemicals and then a lot of sugar," Beaglehole said.

But Eric Crampton, New Zealand Initiative's chief economist, said while the study seems well conducted, he's not convinced. 

"So other studies have found that when a sugar-sweetened beverage tax comes in, people compensate by buying other sweet things. So, you might buy a cake, or some sweetened milk."

Health Minister Dr Shane Reti told Newshub any kind of sugar tax is not a priority for the Government, but said he's interested in looking at further measures to support healthy eating.

About 50 countries have some form of sugar tax, including many Pacific countries, but it seems unlikely for now that Aotearoa will follow suit.