New Zealand Labour Party

A spoonful of sugar…would be better than two

New Zealanders’ high sugar consumption could be cut overnight with an industry-led initiative to reduce the amount of sugar in all processed foods, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“The focus has been on fizzy drinks but what about cereal or yoghurt, or even peanut butter? We should be looking to reduce sugar across the board. 

“Calls from public health advocates for a sugar tax on soft drinks are understandable. These people are often at the vanguard of driving change, but I don’t believe we should be fixated on one particular item.

“We know it can be done – in the UK a voluntary campaign to reduce salt in processed food is reported to have cut intake by at least 10 per cent. It sets out an unobtrusive reformulation programme for manufacturers to gradually reduce the amount of added salt.

“While National has been slow in waking up to the fact we have a problem with our sugar intake – it dumped two Labour initiatives aimed at healthier eating – and the third highest child obesity rate in the world there is no reason New Zealand can’t be a world leader in this.

Mrs King has put up a Member’s Bill which requires DHBs to implement a child obesity target. Jonathan Coleman keeps talking about it, but that’s as far as he’s ever got.

“Having a target means there will be consistency around reporting and better information for those making policy decisions.

“Let’s start working with the industry now and stop loading our food and drink with excessive and unnecessary amounts of sugar. We’ll all benefit down the track.”