sugar tax

Hard proof for fat and sugar taxers: education works

Well lookie here.   Turns out that people are getting the message and are making better choices without troughing busybodies or government interference:

Fresh produce has won Kiwi shoppers over in a recent grocery popularity list.

Countdown’s Annual Trolley Report reveals which items make their way into New Zealander’s trolleys most often. It suggests that processed foods are out and fruit and vegetables are in.

Bananas claimed the number one spot in the year to October 2016, pushing 2015’s winner Homebrand $1 white bread down to second place.

Bananas still are one of nature’s pre-packaged superfoods.   Read more »

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A tax on its own won’t cure obesity

So writes Niki Bezzant who drank the Coolaid at the FIZZ lobby group event

A tax on its own won’t cure obesity.

That doesn’t mean, though, that it is not worth doing. I’m more convinced than ever that a tax has to be part of the solution.

Expert after expert came at the topic from different angles.

Economist Geoff Simmons neatly dismantled the arguments put forward by opponents of a tax, including the one that it is regressive – it hurts the poorest people in society – by pointing out that obesity and diabetes are highly regressive, too, disproportionately affecting the most deprived.

He also made the excellent point that raising money via a tax is just the start. We need to spend that money wisely and it can be spent for good.

In the petition we are calling for the money raised from a tax to be spent on healthy eating education, a key part of the obesity puzzle.

Read more »

Remarkable: The Royal Society goes anti-sugar

The Royal Society is a scientific body.  To see it enter advocacy is a real problem to me.

New Zealand should look at making it mandatory for food labels to include the amount of added sugar, the Royal Society says.

The society, which represents top scholars and scientists, has just put out a fact sheet with the latest evidence about the sweetener’s health risks.

It said the issue was urgent, given a third of adults and 11 percent of children aged between two to 14 are obese.

Society president Richard Bedford said it was difficult for people to know how much sugar they were consuming.

“With a typical can of sugar-sweetened fizzy drink containing nine teaspoons of sugar, and sugar added to a wide range of food products in New Zealand … it is likely that many New Zealanders are exceeding World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines regularly, if not every day.”

89% of children are just fine.   And of the 11% remaining, all 11% are due to sugar?  Not fat?  Not lack of exercise?  Not shit parenting?   This problem – and it is one – is not solved by hitting 89% of the kids over the head for something they’re not doing in the first place, and placing compliance costs and other overheads onto industry when there is absolutely zero indication that it actually makes a practical difference.  Read more »

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They know their customers, shame the Labour party doesn’t

Labour are contemplating introducing a soft drink tax. This will apparently lead to the slimming of the nation despite there being no actual evidence to show this is what would happen. This is also despite the fact that soft drink makeup about 3 calories, or 1.6% of your total intake of energy per day.

Shopkeepers know otherwise.

Palmerston North dairy owners doubt a tax on sugary drinks will change people’s consumption habits, saying those looking for a sweeter sip will simply change to cheaper brands.

The debate is back in the spotlight after Labour health spokeswoman Annette King told media there was growing support in the health sector for a sugary drink tax. While Labour’s position had previously been that there was not enough evidence to support such a tax, no final decision had been made.

Albert St Dairy owner Dakshina Keshav said if the Government started taxing sugary drinks it could be a significant hit to her business if customers were put off by it.   Read more »

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Face of the Day

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The lady in the photo is all for plain labeling on soft drinks.

A team of researchers surveyed 600 young people, aged 13-24, online to find out what impact plain packaging and warning labels would have on their buying habits.

It found that plain packaging and warning labels had a bigger impact than price on whether or not a young person would buy a particular soft drink.

Research leader Dr Cliona Ni Mhurchu said branding was a major factor in their decision making. Read more »

Key’s excuses are wearing thin, says Kevlar Smalley

sugartax

The sugar tax – we may yet get one. The Greens have always backed this. Labour was a bit cagey about it but the party seems to be moving on this.

It’s a tax that would be applied to fizzy drinks.

The Health Minister Jonathan Coleman isn’t interested in a sugar tax. He has consistently rejected calls for one. And the main reason that he gives is that there is no evidence to suggest a sugar tax would work.

This ‘no evidence’ line is starting to wear a bit thin.

Over and over again the government is using it – ‘there’s no evidence’.

Erm.  Rach.  There isn’t any.  Read more »

Apparently a NZ sugar tax is coming

Boyd Swindleburn

Boyd Swindleburn

According to Professor Boyd Swinburn a sugar fat bastard tax is inevitable, just not under a National Government.

Appearing on Paul Henry to discuss what is needed to stop child obesity in New Zealand, Boyd Swinburn is still whinging on about a letter he sent to the government months ago calling on a sugar fat bastard tax.

Sadly, Boyd Swinburn and his followers are upset that his theoretical modelling efforts aren’t being noticed. The usual line of taxes worked for tobacco therefore it must work for sugar, is another line not being swallowed by government.

And not surprisingly.

Even arts, travel and lifestyle blogger David Farrar has taken the call for a sugar tax to task.   Read more »

Sugar Tax in Mexico increases sales of sugary drinks

The Wall Street Jounal reports on the…uhmm…success? …that a soda tax has had in Mexico:

Sales of soda are climbing two years after Mexico imposed a roughly 10% tax on sugary drinks—a bright spot for an industry that has feared it could be cast as the next tobacco.

Mexico’s tax was an attempt to cap alarming obesity and diabetes rates in a country where per capita soda consumption is the highest in the world. It came at a time when then Mayor Michael Bloomberg was trying to limit sales of the beverages in New York City, and more countries are weighing a similar tax.

Purchases, however, are rising in Mexico after an initial drop, making the country a key-growth market again for soda giants Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc.

Underscoring the resiliency of sugary drinks, the tax of one peso per liter has raised more than $2 billion since January 2014, about a third more than the government expected.

Read more »

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Real life proof that sugar taxes don’t actually work

…the problem with Mexico’s soda tax was not that it didn’t reduce consumption, but that it reduced it by a trivial amount at a significant cost to consumers. Here was a relatively poor country introducing quite a large tax on a fairly small component of the country’s calorie supply and making a little dent in it. At best, the BMJ study suggested that it had reduced calorie consumption by the equivalent of one sugar cube a day which, as Tom Sanders said at the time, is ‘a drop in the caloric ocean’. …

On the face of it, sugary drink sales were seven per cent higher last year than they were before the tax was introduced. This is not good news for Jamie Oliver, but these figures need to be adjusted for population growth. Using the correct measure of per capita consumption we get the following results:

2007-13: 160 litres
2014: 162 litres
2015: 161 litres

This is still not good news for Jamie Oliver and so the NIPH asks the public to trust regression models that have made further adjustments to the data for possible confounding variables such as climate and economic growth. As with the BMJ study, these models suggest that soft drink consumption would have been higher if there had been no tax. Perhaps it would, but there is clearly a difference between arguing that sales would have been higher if the weather had been colder or the economy had been sluggish and asserting, as the NIPH does, that ‘there was an average decrease of -6% in 2014 and -8% in 2015′.

They conclude:   Read more »

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Why a sugar tax would break our tax system

A business think tank doesn’t like the idea of politicians effin’ around the edges:

It is very, very easy to break a beautiful tax system. Here is the recipe for doing it.

Start by finding some product that seems a little frivolous – a bit of a luxury – and preferably one that’s mostly used by people that the typical voter does not really like anyway. Say, for example, the fancy beard oil used by hipsters to maintain their elegant facial appendages.

Then, find some cause that nobody could object to. Something really motherhood and feijoa pie. Tieke recovery. Who doesn’t love the New Zealand saddleback and support its recovery? Nobody.

Add the two together and propose a tax on hipster beard oil to help fund Tieke recovery programmes. Who could object? Hipsters are at best a mild nuisance, and at worst a looming threat to national identity; beard oil seems the height of frivolous consumption; and Tieke are a perennial entry in Bird of the Year competitions.

The bundle is an economic abomination. If Tieke recovery is the best use of the next public dollar, it is best regardless of whether we tax hipsters’ beard oil. And if a tax on hipsters’ beard oil is the most efficient next tax to impose, then the government should tax it regardless of whether the money raised is used to cut other taxes, fund Tieke recovery, or fund something else entirely.

But none of that much matters. Treasury would scream, because economists know that these kinds of taxes are abominations. But Labour dismissed Treasury critiques as ideological burps, and National’s Gerry Brownlee has been no less dismissive of sound Treasury analysis. Politics rules in the end.

One of the dangers of political pressure is that it makes for bad solutions.   Read more »