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Ideas gleaned from an international study can help New Zealand counter the adverse health impact of sugary drinks, a Dunedin academic says.
A recent international Cochrane Review investigates ‘‘the best way to stop us guzzling fizzy drinks’’ and concludes that several measures work, including increasing their cost in supermarkets and restaurants.
These steps could reduce sales of sugary drinks in supermarkets and restaurants, as could subsidies and promotion of healthier drinks, including water, the review concluded.
‘‘New Zealand has every opportunity to embrace many if not most of these strategies,’’ Dunedin academic Prof Rachael Taylor said.
‘‘Combined, they have the potential to make a real difference to intake and thus health with New Zealanders,’’ Prof Taylor said.
The Cochrane researchers also investigated labelling, drink options in schools, home-based interventions and substitution of drinks in fast-food chains and found all to be somewhat successful.
Cochrane is a British charity which reviews and organises medical research findings, to support evidence-based choices about health interventions faced by health professionals, patients, and policy makers.
Prof Taylor, the University of Otago Edgar Diabetes Research Centre director, said the evidence showed that ‘‘some interventions, particularly those around pricing can make a real difference to intake and should be explored further’’.
She has said that New Zealand faces an obesity epidemic, and adult-onset diabetes cases are sharply rising.
Prof Taylor, who is also deputy director of the Otago department of medicine, said that evidence supporting the idea ‘‘that we really need to do something about sugary drink intake around the world’’ was growing.
Unfortunately, New Zealand had not had a national nutrition survey for some time, especially in children,‘‘for us to really know what current intakes are’’.
Marketing data showed that ‘‘intakes are certainly not slowing down’’, she said.