A majority of Kiwi adults have shown some support in a survey
for controls on how much sugar can be fed to us by the
Forty-six per cent said there should "definitely" be limits
on sugar in drinks and a further 32 per cent said there
should "possibly" be such limits - more than 75 per cent in
In contrast, far fewer people supported a tax on the sugar
content of drinks, with 18 per cent saying "definitely" and
26 per cent "possibly" - 44 per cent combined.
Forty per cent said the sugar content of takeaways should
definitely or possibly be taxed, and 59 per cent definitely
or possibly favoured a reduction in the serving sizes of
The survey of 3451 respondents from an online panel was
commissioned and done by Horizon Research. The results were
weighted by age, gender, ethnicity, educational
qualifications, employment status and party voted for at the
2011 elections to provide a representative sample. The
maximum margins of error were 1.7 per cent up or down.
It was the first scientific opinion poll of the public's
views on policies to control sugar intake, said Horizon
principal Graeme Colman.
Health Minister Tony Ryall said his Government had no plans
to introduce a sugar tax or sugar restrictions.
Coca-Cola New Zealand said: "Government regulation, such as a
limit on sugar in drinks, cannot solve the obesity crisis."
The company's commitments in helping to deal with obesity
include offering more low-energy drinks.
"Today nearly one in three of our soft drinks purchased does
not contain sugar, and volumes of our low-kilojoule beverages
continue to increase," the company said.
"Twenty-five per cent of our entire range of beverages is low
or no kilojoule. Volumes of our sugar-sweetened range are in
The final day of the three-week survey period, last Friday,
coincided with the release of the first study assessing the
New Zealand mortality impact of a 20 per cent tax on fizzy
drinks. It found such a tax could avert or postpone 67 deaths
a year, which is 0.2 per cent of all deaths.
Some groups in New Zealand, notably young men, consume far
more sugar than recommended by the World Health Organisation,
although there is debate among researchers about how much
sugar New Zealanders consume.
A university-based advocacy group, Fighting Sugar in Soft
Drinks or FIZZ, is calling for the "end game" of
sugar-sweetened drinks, with policies such as taxes and
banning sugar drinks from hospitals.
But FIZZ also wants to work with the soft-drink industry and
has lauded some of Coca-Cola's anti-obesity efforts as "small
steps in the right direction".
Should restrictions be imposed to limit sugar in
5.3% possibly not
13.1% definitely not
4.4% not sure
Source: Horizon Research online survey
- Martin Johnston of the New Zealand Herald