Analysis of a new NZ Treasury Report on soft drink tax

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 | Kate Sloane | No Comments

Professors Tony Blakely, Nick Wilson, Boyd Swinburn and Cliona Ni Mhurchu

The Government has an action plan to tackle childhood obesity, but it lacks a tax on sugary drinks – a strategy for which there is good evidence.  A new Treasury Report on soft drink tax price elasticities has just emerged. It has the look of a strategically published document that if and when – during election year – certain politicians need to defend non-action on taxing sugary drinks, they can point to this Report and obfuscate.  Indeed, this New Zealand Treasury Report has already been used for this purpose in Australia. We critique this Report in this blog, with a view to preventing its misrepresentation and to encourage a more informed discussion on taxing sugary drinks.

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Front-of-pack nutrition labels improve understanding but don’t improve healthy food choices; Starlight Trial just published

Friday, February 3rd, 2017 | Kate Sloane | 1 Comment

Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Cliona Ni Mhurchu

Health Star Rating and Traffic Light nutrition labels have a minor impact on New Zealand consumer healthy food choices, according to a randomised trial just published from our HRC-funded DIET Programme based at the University of Auckland. This is important evidence for policy. We had expected that these simple, visual front of package labels would have more effect on healthy food purchasing choices, but the contrary findings are why randomised trials are important. In this blog we discuss our findings, strengths and weaknesses of the study, and implications of the results.

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Improving New Zealand’s preparations for the next pandemic

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 | Kate Sloane | 1 Comment

Dr Julia Scott, Prof Nick Wilson, Prof Michael Baker

In a globalised world an infectious disease outbreak anywhere is a potential threat to New Zealand (NZ). Recent such threats have included severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), pandemic influenza (2009), Ebola and Zika. In the context of an upcoming University of Otago, Wellington Public Health Summer School symposium on the topic of emerging infectious diseases, this blog discusses how NZ could ensure it is better prepared in this public health domain.

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