A majority of New Zealand adults has shown some support in a
survey for controls on how much sugar can be fed to us by the
Forty-six percent said there should ''definitely'' be limits
on sugar in drinks and a further 32% said there should
''possibly'' be such limits - more than 75% in total.
In contrast, far fewer people supported a tax on the sugar
content of drinks, with 18% saying ''definitely'' and 26%
''possibly'' - 44% combined.
Forty percent said the sugar content of takeaways should
definitely or possibly be taxed, and 59% definitely or
possibly favoured a reduction in the serving sizes of sugar
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%.
It was the first scientific opinion poll of the public's
views on policies to control sugar intake, Horizon principal
Graeme Colman said.
Health Minister Tony Ryall said the 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 percent 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% tax on sugar-sweetened
drinks. It found such a tax could avert or postpone 67 deaths
a year, which is 0.2% 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
• 45.7% definitely
• 31.5% possibly
• 5.3% possibly not
• 13.1% definitely not
• 4.4% not sure
Source: Horizon Research online survey