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Un-edited statements from the health sector and beyond

Dentists repeat call for sugary drink tax after new US data  

New Zealand Dental Association Thursday 20 April 2017, 01:15PM

Media release from New Zealand Dental Association

A paper in PLOS Medicine journal has data from the first US city to introduce a sugary drinks tax. 

Berkeley, California, introduced a sugary drinks tax on 1 March 2015, of 10% adding 12 cents to a can of soft drink, or 68 cents to a two litre bottle. 

The study shows sales were cut by nearly 10% and the number of people buying water may have increased also, with bottled water sales in Berkeley increasing by 15.6% after the introduction of the tax. 

The New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) is keen to see the measure introduced in New Zealand. 

“Yet another study has shown that a sugary drink tax can reduce consumption. This further builds on Mexico’s sugary drink tax study, which also showed a decline in sugary drinks purchases,” said NZDA spokesperson Dr Rob Beaglehole.

“By all means this is not the only measure, but it would be straight forward to introduce, and the emerging evidence points toward it having an impact – reducing sugary drink consumption, which long-term can reduce the harm that we are seeing from high-sugar drinks,” says Dr Beaglehole.  

A consortium of public health groups is backing a NZDA-led 7-point Consensus Statement on Sugary Drinks, including introduction of a ‘sugary drinks’ tax in line with WHO recommendations.

Notes to editors:

The paper in PLOS Medicine: Changes in prices, sales, consumer spending, and beverage consumption one year after a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in Berkeley, California, US: A before-and-after study. 


The seven actions are;

1) Introducing an icon on drinks indicating, in teaspoons, the amount of sugar in each drink.  

2) Independent monitoring and evaluation of food marketing, with an emphasis on marketing that influences children.

3) Urging the government to adopt WHO limit guidelines on sugar.

4) Encouraging public to switch to water by; introducing warning labels highlighting sugary drinks as risk factors for obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay, and a nationwide social marketing campaigns such as ‘Switch to Water’.

5) Working with schools and the Ministry of Education to introduce ‘water only’ policies.

6) Introducing local council ‘water only’ policies at council facilities and events.

7) Introduction of a ‘sugary drinks’ tax in line with WHO recommendations.

The Consensus Statement is endorsed by; Activity and Nutrition Aotearoa (ANA), Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, Cancer Society of New Zealand, Diabetes New Zealand, Hapai Te Hauora, NZ Dental & Oral Health Therapists Association, NZ Branch of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Paediatric Dentistry, NZ Society of Hospital and Community Dentistry, Te Ao Marama, The Heart Foundation, The Public Health Association, The Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons.

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