Coleman to regulate high sugar industry

Written By: - Date published: 9:37 am, December 1st, 2015 - 32 comments
Categories: child welfare, Economy, families, food, health, Social issues - Tags:


Remember the squeals about Nanny state when Nats were in Opposition? And the squeals that we can’t possibly legislate against the high sugar foods that are killing our children and costing billions in healthcare bills cos that would be interfering in people’s freedom to choose and cos there isn’t really eveidnce for stuff? Can’t legislate to make Developers personallly liable for ten years for faulty work cos that would stop houses being built (no evidence of this either)?

Apparently sunbed operators are the biggest current threat to our current and future health which requires legislation priority…

Imagine if Coleman, as Minister for Helath was making the following statement

Public health advocates have called for a complete ban on all high sugar food, given the well-established link between these products and childhood obesity, diabetes, heart disaease and shortened life span the PM’s Chief Scientist, Peter Gluckman, has a report stating a sugar tax will help.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said there is a voluntary regime in place for the manufacture and sale of high sugar food but where there is is self regulation it is often ignored.

Because of the danger high sugar foods potentially pose it’s important to have a regulatory body and licensing/education regime to ensure manufacturers and retailers only provide food that has healthy outcomes.”  This is made up. Coleman did not actually say this.

A report contains his views on sunbeds

Public health advocates have called for a complete ban, given the well-established link between sunbed use and skin cancer.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said there was an existing voluntary standard in place for the use of sunbeds, but this was often ignored.

Because of the danger sunbeds potentially pose it’s important to have a licensing and training regime that ensures there are no cowboy operators in this industry.

To see what he thinks about his boss’s Chief Scientist’s recommendation from WHO’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity for  dealing with high sugar foods read this link.

Evidence is a problem. Mostly because no one has tried it to enable it to be studied, so making the accusation of no clear evidence is an easy (and cowardly) out for any politician.

There is an attempt to get evidence though. World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. Using price policies to promote healthier diets. Copenhagen, Denmark: WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2014.

The TPP throws an extra hurdle in the way. IF New Zealand brought in a tax, it might avoid being sued (M Hooton suggests we are small and insignificant so safe from being sued. He suggests only G8 countries get sued.). BUT not suing us would set a precedent (insofar as there is a system of precedent un the Investor  Dispute Resolution Process. It might lead to other countries trying something new to defeat the problem.

In fairness, you can’t legislate for everything. So you prioritise. Children or clients of sunbed operators?. Children or client sof sunbed operators?. Its a tough one. For THIS Government.

32 comments on “Coleman to regulate high sugar industry”

  1. tracey 1

    I’m sure this has nothing to do with it

    Dirty Politics and the health advocates

    • BLiP 1.1

      The Filth Section of John Key’s Dirty Politics Machine is still at it with what looks like another hit job from Carrick Graham. This one puts the boot in just for fun and also to serve as a warning to whomever might next take up such a role.

  2. Lanthanide 2

    Reading the headline I was surprised that the government was actually doing something.

    Then disappointed to find out that they aren’t.

    • tracey 2.1

      Disappointed but surely not surprised? Afterall those adults for whom browning their skin is critical and life threatening need protection first.

  3. One Anonymous Bloke 3

    Who uses sunbeds? You might imagine that they made bad choices, and need to take more personal responsibility.

    Obviously there’s a good reason that doesn’t apply to them.

  4. Detrie 4

    I thought only Mexico had done something with a tax on sugar. But after viewing the WHO Euro report seems there are many others, with ample evidence proving the value of a tax. For the Minister to say there’s no evidence is just delusional, showing he has no interest in child health, or even lowering our overloaded health system costs. This is not a government, but a group of weak-minded people that will stick with some obscure idealology at any cost

  5. … the high sugar foods that are killing our children and costing billions in healthcare bills…

    Killing our children? Are they choking on their cornflakes or something? And it’s carbohydrates in general that are causing conditions that result in billions being spent on healthcare, not the subset of carbs that end in “ose.”

    The problem with taxing high-sugar foods isn’t that it won’t make people eat less sugar (sugar here assumed to mean stuff-with-names-ending-in-‘ose’ rather than carbs-in-general), or that eating less sugar isn’t a good thing. It probably would make people eat less sugar, and eating less sugar is a good thing. The problem is that lobbyists are using it as a scapegoat for their failed dogma, and by indulging them we continue to accept the dogma that’s given us an ever-growing league of fatties.

    In short, there’s no point in taxing carbs-ending-in-ose while simultaneously encouraging people to base their diet on grains and starch. As it stands, the idea is a stupid one and the government’s right to reject it.

    • tracey 5.1

      Gluckman should be sacked, yes?

      • Psycho Milt 5.1.1

        Gluckman’s a scientist. His views on social science matters aren’t of significantly greater value than anyone else’s.

        • tracey

          Can you post your linsk to research concluding sugar taxes make no difference?

          • Psycho Milt

            Make no difference to what? As mentioned above, I expect taxing sugar would cause people to eat less of it, assuming the tax was set at a high enough level to influence demand, so it would make a difference in that respect. Whether it would make a difference to population levels of obesity and Type 2 diabetes is another question, and it’s really up to the tax fans to provide the evidentiary basis for that. There’ll be a significant hurdle to get over in demonstrating that high-sugar products wouldn’t simply be replaced with other carbs that rate high on the glycaemic index, mind. If you have a look at that index, the amount of stuff that rates higher than Coca Cola is impressive.

        • tracey

          Yes, you keep telling yourself that while talking about lobby groups…

    • Corokia 5.2

      “there’s no point in taxing carbs-ending-in-ose while simultaneously encouraging people to base their diet on grains and starch.”

      There IS a point in taxing high glycemic index carbs (those ending in -ose), because those cause the quickest spike in blood sugars requiring more insulin release. It’s the massive dumps of insulin that eventually lead to insulin resistance in susceptible individuals ( aka type 2 diabetes.)

      BTW looks like you are out of touch with 21st century healthy eating recommendations .People are not being encouraged to base their diet on grains and starch. The message now is the ‘healthy plate’ which is half fruit and veges, a quarter carbs and a quarter protein.

      • Psycho Milt 5.2.1

        There IS a point in taxing high glycemic index carbs…

        That would put white bread and other refined carbs near the top of the taxation candidates’ list.

        The message now is the ‘healthy plate’ which is half fruit and veges, a quarter carbs and a quarter protein.

        The bollocks plate, more like. Kind of funny that the same people demanding we put a tax on sugary foods issue nutritional guidelines that advise eating a lot of fruit.

        • Corokia

          “That would put white bread and other refined carbs near the top of the taxation candidates’ list.”
          Yes, if we were serious about obesity, then they probably should be, but nothing gets blood sugars up faster than a sugary drink, so it’s a good place to start.
          (In a logical world fruit juices would be up there too, but at least there is a little nutritional value in them, there is none in soft drinks.)

          Nutritional guidelines I have seen recommend 2-3 servings of fruit a day- would you call that ‘a lot’?

          • Psycho Milt

            Yes. That’s a lot of sugar. Maybe someone should tax it?

            • Corokia

              Would you be suggesting that soft/fizzy drinks and raw fruit are equivalent and should be taxed at the same rate?

              Even if you were, there would be twice the tax on the fizzy
              Medium sized apple (150g incl peel & core) 14.6g carb
              “Slimline” can of coke (300ml) 31.8g carb.
              source =

              • They’re not equivalent, in that fruit does have the odd nutrient in it as well as sugar – but if we’re going to tax sugar, we should tax sugar.

                • Corokia

                  We can just tax foods and drinks that have no nutrient value.

                  • So much for the tax on sugar. Having written that off in favour of a tax on nutrient-free products: presumably there’d be an exemption for water? Some mechanism to prevent “new Coca Cola with added nutrients?” Taxing stuff is a messy business.

                    • Corokia

                      Ok ,lets just go back to taxing soft drinks then. Like Mexico- where it has resulted in a decrease in consumption.

                    • David

                      “Ok ,lets just go back to taxing soft drinks then. Like Mexico- where it has resulted in a decrease in consumption.”

                      Has it resulted in a decrease in obesity?

        • galeandra

          Recent research from UK iirc demonstrated with a study of children that cutting sugar while maintaining the calorific value of diet demonstrated quite clearly that SUGAR itself was a contributor to serious ill-health. Can’t provide link sorry.

    • wtl 5.3

      These is scientific evidence that suggests that the fructose component of common table sugar (i.e. sucrose) is not metabolised in the same way as other carbohydrates, and contributes disproportionately to metabolic disease. Thus, specifically targeting high sugar foods does have a valid scientific basis.

      • Psycho Milt 5.3.1

        Is that “scientific evidence” as in “evidence obtained using the scientific method” or is it “scientific evidence” as in “conclusions leapt to by people who do observational studies but want to pretend they’re doing science?” In any case, if it were fructose rather than insulin response that’s behind lipogenesis and metabolic syndrome, it would be fructose we should tax – it’d be kind of funny if apples and oranges ended up getting taxed at the same rate as Coca Cola, but taxes often have unintended consequences.

        • tracey

          God we are back to your “anything less than quantative research” has no value hobby horse. Take it to Open Mike Psycho Milt.

  6. AmaKiwi 6

    “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of a NZ state house and into the halls of Merrill Lynch.

    Thou shalt have no other gods before profits.”

  7. CR 7

    I would support public education and health promotion over taxation. The messages to promote could include for example

    1. portion sizes (there used to be a ministry of health poster visually depicting healthy portion sizes against a pack of playing cards – have looked but can not find it now)

    2. frequency of sugar consumption (especially important for dental health – water between meals and limit sugary drinks to mealtimes only), ask any dental nurse why

    3. Labelling – nutritional information and how to interpret this labelling.

    It would be good if we could aspire to improve all people’s understanding so we are all able to make healthier choices. Prevention is better than punishment

    • AmaKiwi 7.1

      Ask fat people what would be most helpful for them.

      Top-down thinking: Everyone has a solution for the other person’s problems.

      • tracey 7.1.1

        Do all fat people understand why they are overweight?

        • AmaKiwi

          Do you?

          My partner is a GP and sees many overweight people who desperately want to lose weight. They KNOW the challenges they face daily. They know corporate profiteering makes their struggle more difficult and what this government could do but does not do.

          • tracey

            I get that. I wasn’t dissing “fat” people.

            For example, someone can be depressed but not know they ahve a chemical imbalance that is causing it.

            For what it is worth since being place don a particular medication my weight has balloned. I eat healthier than I have in decades, walk and do weights. Sugar almost gone, yet the most I have lost in over 3 years is 4 kgs.

            SO, I get what you were saying, but believe it needs a combination of stuff, including willingness by our Governments,

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