Geoff Simmons on Nutrition

Gareth MorganHealth, Tax and Welfare


Simon Dallow: A new bid to fight what’s called a diabetes tsunami is
being launched by a group of economists. They want the government to tax
unhealthy foods and introduce fruit and vegetables vouchers for families
with children. Amy Kelley explains.

Amy Kelley: Some might say we’ve heard it all before, a proposed fat tax on
salty, sugary, fatty foods. But others feel it’s an idea
that can no longer be ignored.

Geoff Simmons: Baby boomers right now are looking forward ten years and
wanting a hip or knee operation, tough luck. The hospitals
are going to be filled with diabetics.

Amy Kelley: This Morgan Foundation economist is proposing a two stage
response to New Zealand’s obesity epidemic. First, labelling
changes to make it easier to recognise unhealthy foods.
Then . . .

Geoff Simmons: As soon as there is public acceptance of the fact that we
need to act, then we can start changing the prices.

Amy Kelly: Tax rates would vary depending on the original price of the
product. For example, soft drinks are so cheap it would
take a substantial increase; maybe 25% to 50 %, to make it
a more expensive option than milk.

Man 1: I think they’ve taken away freedom of choice a bit.

Woman 1: There must be other ways of encouraging people to eat healthier
rather than just increasing tax. I think it’s a bit of a
punitive measure.

Man 2: Who decides what’s healthy and unhealthy?

Amy Kelley: There’s a silver lining. Tax collected on junk foods would be
used to make healthy foods cheaper.

Geoff Simmons: For the same price as taking GST off fruit and veg, you
could actually give all parents a $5 voucher per child per
week, and that would really encourage them to put fruit and
vegetables on the table in front of the kids.

Amy Kelley: According to another economist, it’s a logistical nightmare.
Brian Gaynor: It’s going to be in the practical implementation that the
politicians will say, “I’m afraid this is in the too
difficult basket.”

Amy Kelley: Health Minister, Tony Ryall, wasn’t available for interview,
but said in a statement this government’s not in favour of
fat taxes, that the cost of living is high enough. Amy
Kelley, ONE News.

Geoff Simmons on Nutrition was last modified: December 15th, 2015 by Gareth Morgan
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