Unhealthy processed foods should be taxed at a higher
rate than healthier options as a way to combat the country's
obesity epidemic, Gareth Morgan says.
The economist has just written a book looking at the issue,
called Appetite for Destruction.
He told TVNZ's Q+A programme fast food was only one factor of
the problem, but the main focus needed to be on processed
foods sold in supermarkets.
"You go through a supermarket and it's virtually all now
processed food, which is not a crime in it's own right,
obviously, but when you do the decomposition of processed
food and you see how energy intensive it is and how nutrient
light it is, our bodies simply can't handle it."
The food manufacturing industry had made far more food
available globally, so fewer people go hungry, Dr Morgan
"But it's the quality of food I'm talking about."
Health professionals should be involved in creating a system,
such as traffic light colours, where a red light labels on
foods attracted the highest tax, Dr Morgan said.
He dismissed the Labour Party idea of removing GST from fresh
fruits and vegetables.
"I wouldn't interfere with GST, it's the wrong thing to do -
the whole idea of GST is to have complete coverage with no
He said an excise tax, similar to the one for tobacco was a