Key says no to sugar tax

  • 19/10/2015
John Key (Getty)
John Key (Getty)

A sugar tax is not on the cards for New Zealand at the moment, Prime Minister John Key says.

The Government is announcing its plan to tackle childhood obesity this afternoon.

Mr Key says there is some evidence sugar taxes work, but "the Government's not doing that at the moment".

"The problem with sugar tax is: So you put a sugar tax on fizzy drinks fair enough, OK. But what about everything else sugar is in?" he told the Paul Henry programme.

But he said obesity has replaced smoking as the long-term issue for New Zealand.

"We do need to resolve these issues, but it's a combination of education and exercise."

Mr Key hinted the plan would work with schools to target exercise and dietary programmes.

The Ministry of Health has been working on the plan to combat obesity for almost a year.

The Government's chief science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman said last month evidence food taxes work was weak but they send signals.

Education, layout of supermarkets and companies reducing sugar and salt levels in food also make a difference, he said.

NZ First is calling for GST to be removed from healthy foods, while the Greens say there should be a tax on sugary drinks and they should be banned from being sold in schools.

Lobby group Fizz, made up of researchers and doctors, have been advocating for the end of the sale of sugary drinks in New Zealand.

Fizz wants a sugary drinks tax, a restriction on sales and advertising, graphic warning labels on products and sugar free drink policies in workplaces and institutions.

Studies have linked sugary drinks to obesity, type-2 diabetes, rotten teeth, gout and risk factors for cardiovascular disease and premature death, Fizz says.