Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has given the Government a billion reasons to impose a sugar tax on soft drinks.

The British television cook, who has made it a mission in life to eliminate fizzy drinks from children's diets - even if some of his cake recipes are sweet - got very excited when the UK Government unveiled a levy on sugary drinks in its budget. The tax is expected to add $1.1 billion a year to revenue.

Oliver hailed the surprise tax as a sign that policymakers could be bold and brave when it involves health and vested interests.

He wasted no time challenging New Zealand and Australia to follow suit, saying that Britain had made a profound move which would "ripple around the world".


Perhaps. After resisting for years pressure from New Zealand health lobbyists to crank up soft drink prices with a tax, there are signs of a shift in the official line on sugar.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said "at this point" the Government would not be adopting the UK approach. He awaits two reports next year on whether soft drink taxes make any difference to obesity rates and dental health.

Governments around the world may not be persuaded that a tax will cut consumption and drive health improvements.

What they can all see though is the fiscal elephant in the room: the staggering cost of funding obesity treatment and Type II diabetes.

By 2020, the global cost will be $1 trillion; already it's $1 billion a year in NZ. The bill is growing. It is not hard to see where money will come from to pay it.

Debate on this article is now closed.