Professor Boyd Swinburn*
The latest New Zealand Health Survey results show a substantial up-tick in both childhood and adult obesity prevalence after plateauing for a decade. This is of great concern and it makes a new report from the Sapere Research Group on the Economic Impact of Excess Weight in Aotearoa all the more important. The report was commissioned by Hapai Te Hauora and it is a very welcome update on the two previous studies I was involved with using data from 1991 and 2006.
Dr Cristina Cleghorn, Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Helen Eyles
There is a lot of focus on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) internationally, due to their role in tooth decay, obesity and diabetes [1-3], their lack of beneficial nutrients, and potential acceptability as an intervention target . Our just published study has shown that an intervention to reduce the size of all single serve SSBs would probably be cost-effective in NZ . In this Blog we elaborate on the issues and consider this intervention in the context of other interventions for addressing NZ’s obesogenic environment.
Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Anja Mizdrak, Dr Cristina Cleghorn
From 1 April 2018, the UK is putting in place a type of sugary drinks tax – actually a “soft drinks industry levy”. This blog reviews how they are doing it, early signs of its success, and ponders its relevance for NZ. We also take this opportunity to point out some problems with a recent NZIER Report on sugary drink taxes.
Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Cristina Cleghorn, Dr Linda Cobiac, Dr Anja Mizdrak, Prof Cliona Ni Mhurchu, Prof Tony Blakely
In this blog we consider recent literature (particularly reviews) on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of dietary counselling as a health intervention. Most studies suggest that dietary counselling is effective though the benefits are typically modest and short-term. The literature on cost-effectiveness is mixed, and there is substantial uncertainty about long-run cost-effectiveness given the typically short-term trials involved. Addressing the obesogenic environment will have potentially (much) larger gains, and due to substantial reductions in obesity-related disease it is likely to be cost-saving. However, governments, policy-makers and the public are often interested in counselling interventions, necessitating close attention to cost-effectiveness of these interventions relative to more structural changes to the environment.
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.