Sugary drinks should carry warning labels and clearly show how many teaspoons of sugar they contain, a group of health advocates say.
The group of 13 New Zealand health organisations have announced seven goals for tackling sugary drink consumption – including labelling and a sugary drinks tax.
In a ‘consensus statement’ released today the organisations outline actions they say will reduce harm associated with overconsumption of sugary drinks:
- Introducing an icon on drinks indicating, in teaspoons, the amount of sugar in each drink
- Introduction of a ‘sugary drinks’ tax in line with World Health Organization recommendations
- Independent monitoring and evaluation of food marketing, with an emphasis on marketing that influences children
- Urging the government to adopt WHO limit guidelines on sugar
- Encouraging public to switch to water by introducing warning labels highlighting sugary drinks as risk factors for obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay, and nationwide social marketing campaigns such as ‘Switch to Water’
- Working with schools and the Ministry of Education to introduce ‘water-only’ policies
- Introducing local council ‘water only’ policies at council facilities and events.
In a press release New Zealand Dental Association spokesperson Rob Beaglehole says: “Current sugar labels rely on confusing calculations such as sugar per 100ml or per ‘serve’, rather than the total amount in the bottle.
“People are more familiar with teaspoon measurements. An icon label for number of teaspoons is needed for sugary drinks,” Dr Beaglehole says.
The proposal would see a full-strength 600ml bottle of fizzy drink state that it ‘contains 16 teaspoons of sugar’, a press release from the group says.
The consensus statement is endorsed by Activity and Nutrition Aotearoa (ANA), Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, Cancer Society of New Zealand, Diabetes New Zealand, Hapai Te Hauora, NZ Dental & Oral Health Therapists Association, New Zealand Dental Association, NZ Branch of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Paediatric Dentistry, NZ Society of Hospital and Community Dentistry, Te Ao Marama, The Heart Foundation, The Public Health Association, The Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons.
New Zealand pays between $700 million and $800 million a year in health costs and lost productivity due to overweight and obesity, according to University of Auckland research. Ministry of Health data show one in nine Kiwi children are obese and 35,000 are morbidly obese.
Three in 10 adults are obese. In the year 2011-2012, 34,000 Kiwi children had a tooth removed due to decay, abscess or infection.
*Have you signed the sugary drinks tax petition? Visit change.org to sign.
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