A coalition of health promoters and academics have joined forces to lobby the Government for more regulation on food, tobacco and alcohol companies.
Health Coalition Aotearoa includes 25 health groups and 55 health professors working to reduce the burden of preventable diseases associated with obesity, tobacco and the harmful consumption of alcohol.
Coalition members included the Cancer Society, Alcohol Action NZ, Hāpai Te Hauora, the Heart Foundation and academics from Otago, Victoria, Massey and Auckland universities.
Hapai Te Hauora spokeswoman Selah Hart said the group wanted the Government flex its legislative muscle to help “un-mesmerise our communities so they understand the harms”.
“It’s about fighting the big corporations that have huge bank accounts to continue to propel all of these products into our households,” Hart said.
In 2017, McDonald’s Restaurants New Zealand made $67m profit and DB Breweries Limited made $30.4m.
As I have said before you can generally divide health activists up into two camps. The first genuinely focus on improving health outcomes. The second just hate companies that sell things they dislike, and their focus is on hurting the companies.
We can see this group falls into the second category. Their focus is that shock horror McDonald’s is a profitable company.
Auckland University population health Professor Boyd Swinburne said better policies were needed to help people “have a better shot at making healthier choices for themselves” and a greater share of the health budget was needed to close the “prevention gap”.
“At the moment there is very little spent on prevention given the harm these commodities create … so I guess there needs to be a stronger voice and stronger demand for these policies,” he said.
Prevention sounds a fancy term for ban.
Clark has ruled out any new taxes during this term – including on sugary drinks. Swinburn said this was “deeply disappointing”.
The Ministry of Health’s own commissioned advice is that they don’t work so it is far from disappointing. But if the aim is not to reduce obesity (which no sugar tax has ever done) but to reduce profits of companies that sell sugary drinks, then a sugar tax makes sense.