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Should New Zealand implement a sugar tax on fizzy drinks?

Sugar is one of the biggest causes of tooth decay – a condition that dissolves the tooth's protective enamel which can lead to cavities and other dental problems down the line.

With the average teenager consuming nearly three times the recommended daily intake of sugar, dental and health issues are becoming an increasing problem, states Health Navigator. 

So, should New Zealand follow in the footsteps of the countries that have already implemented a sugar tax?

How sugar is a growing problem for Kiwi children

Around 20 per cent of all Kiwi children are overweight, with a further 12 per cent classed as obese, according to the Ministry of Health. Furthermore, around half of Kiwi children develop cavities by the time they turn five years old. 

These worrying statistics should come at no surprise considering the amount of sugar the average Kiwi teenager consumes. According to Health Navigator New Zealand, children over the age of 11 should consume no more than 30 grams (7 cubes) of sugar per day, but currently, they're consuming around 90 grams. 

Around 20 per cent of all Kiwi children are overweight, with a further 12 per cent classed as obese.

Unfortunately, it's incredibly easy to consume such high amounts of sugar due to so many products featuring large quantities of hidden/added sugar. Nearly a quarter of the added sugar in our diets comes from soft drinks, states Health Navigator New Zealand.

A recent report from FIZZ NZ, found that 29 per cent of Kiwi kids were categorised as high consumers of soft drinks. With the average 600 ml bottle of fizzy drink containing around 16 teaspoons of sugar, if a child consumes one every day, this equates to an extra 2 Kg of added sugar per month!

Many people are calling on the government to implement a sugar tax in a bid to prevent obesity and dental issues.  

The benefits of a sugar tax

Here are just some of the advantages of New Zealand implementing a levy on fizzy drinks:

  • Prevent child obesity Kiwi kids are the third most obese in the world, according to the the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The increase in price of sugary drinks plans to lower consumption and therefore help mitigate this significant problem.
  • Less dental issues – An alarming number of dental issues in young Kiwi's can be blamed by excess sugar intake. By reducing the accessibility of these sugar-laden drinks, this risk will hopefully reduce.
  • Increased revenue for the government – Taxes on demerit goods such as sugar results in decreased consumption amongst consumers and increased revenue for the New Zealand Government. This is because people will have to spend a relatively higher proportion of their disposable income on these goods and thus be able to buy less. 
Fizzy drinks are one of the biggest contributors to New Zealand's obesity problem.Are you aware of how much sugar is in your child's favourite fizzy drink? 

How many countries already have a sugar tax?

Mexico, Portugal and France have already introduced a sugar tax, with the U.K., Canada and South Africa planning to follow in their footsteps. Although the New Zealand government is not actively looking to implement their own, surveys have discovered that 67 per cent of Kiwis are in favour of doing so.

So, while New Zealand awaits any decision, it's important to limit yours, and your little ones sugar intake to avoid becoming part of these worrying statistics. Routine dental check ups are also a great way to stay on top of any underlying issues. Click here to book your next visit at City Dentists. 

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