Here’s Healthy Future’s position on a Sugar Sweetened Beverages Tax and why we think it’s a good idea for New Zealand.

Sugar Sweetened Beverages are not part of a healthy diet

As a Trust we believe that SSBs are not part of a healthy diet, for the following reasons:

  • They provide a lot of calories with no nutritional benefit

  • They are detrimental to oral health

  • They contribute to obesity and type 2 diabetes (ref: 1, 2)

  • Their pricing displaces healthier beverage options such as unflavoured milk

  • They provide the major source of sugar for children and young people in NZ (ref: 3, 4)

  • Water is free

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Why we support a Sugar Sweetened Beverages Tax

Healthy Futures supports a SSB tax because:

  • It gives a strong public health message to reduce consumption

  • It can add pressure to manufacturers to supply healthier options

  • A SSB tax is one tool in the toolbox, and could complement policies to restrict sales of calorie-dense foods in schools and to restrict junk food advertising to children across all media

  • The tax could generate revenue for other public health initiatives, improving public support and reducing health inequalities if health promotion strategies are highly targeted

  • Obesity rates will continue to increase particularly in children while we wait for robust evidence (Boyd Swinburn)(ref: 5) . New Zealand already has the 3rd highest rate of childhood obesity in the OECD (ref: 6)

  • Also need to add additional point stating that we support WHO recommendations for a 20% tax

Check out the effect of sugar sweetened beverages on your teeth here.

Find out how to reduce sugary drinks intake in your community by encouraging local schools to be water-only here.


1A 2014 study by University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely showed a 20% tax on sugar sweetened carbonated drinks would prevent 67 deaths from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and diet-related cancers per year.

2New Zealand currently ranks in the top five most obese nations in the OECD and shows little sign of improving, with obesity continuing to climb, increasing across all age groups and both genders in the last decade

3Ministry of Health (2003). NZ Food NZ Children: Key results of the 2002 National Children’s Nutrition Survey. Wellington: Ministry of Health

4University of Otago and Ministry of Health (2011). A Focus on Nutrition: Key findings of the 2008/09 NZ Adults Nutrition Survey. Wellington: Ministry of Health

5"If we wanted that level of evidence to do anything about childhood obesity we would be sitting on our hands for a very long time, so it is inappropriate to call for magic bullet evidence for one strategy and then have 22 other strategies which have far less evidence backing them up." Boyd Swinburn, 2016

6Kelly, S. & Swinburn, B. (2015). Childhood Obesity in New Zealand. New Zealand Medical Journal, Vol 128, No. 1417