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SUGAR TAX BETTER FOR PUBLIC HEALTH, NZ STUDY SHOWS

Sugar taxation has remained the most effective for of food taxation when it comes to reducing diet-related diseases as compared to taxes on salt, saturated fat and junk food, according to a recent New Zealand study published in The Lancet. And reported by Pearly Neo for the Food Navigator Asia-com on July 28, 2020.

The study led by Prof. Tony Blakely was conducted at the University of Otago and modeled the effects of a hypothesized 20% fruit and vegetable subsidy as well as taxes on saturated fat, salt, sugar and junk food (defined as non-essential, energy dense foods) on a New Zealand population over 30 years based on New Zealand National Nutrition Survey data. The sugar taxation was modeled based on tax for all foods and beverages with sugar, not sugar-sweetened beverages alone.


Two of the main outcomes investigated were: The effects of these on public health disease incidences for 17 diet-related diseases (coronary heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, diabetes, and 13 types of cancers), and the potential public health gains (calculated based on the number of Health-Adjusted Life Years, or HALYs, gained.)


Sugar taxes emerged as the most powerful intervention in terms of reducing the incidences of these diseases when compared to salt, saturated fat, or junk food taxes, or the 20% fruit and vegetable subsidy. “The implementation of a sugar tax led to higher outcomes than any of the other taxes and subsidies investigated when it came to reducing incidences of diet-related diseases such as diabetes (-32.7% in men, -26.7% in women), stroke (-18.2% in men, -14.7% in women), coronary heart disease (-15.8% in men, -13.6% in women), colorectal cancer (-5.9% in men, -1.5% in women) and osteoarthritis (16.3% in men, 12.8% in women),” said the study authors. This was particularly obvious for diabetes, where it beat out the closest contender saturated fat tax (-20.1% for men, -16.4% for women) by over 10% on average; as well as osteoarthritis where it beat salt tax (-10.2% for men, -7.7% for women) by over 5%.


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