Three months out from the general election politicians have been grilled about their stance on a sugar tax at symposium run by advocacy group Fighting Sugary in Soft Drinks (FIZZ).

Today's FIZZ Symposium was all about making sugar tax an election issue with national and international speakers explaining the effects of sugar and what was being done around the world to combat it.

The day ended with a political panel discussion on the issue chaired by Mark Sainsbury.

New Zealand First's Ria Bond said the party did not support a tax on sugary drinks but were monitoring evidence from trials in other countries, including Mexico, and were open to reviewing their stance if evidence proved it worked.


Maori Party representative Wetex Kang said the party supported the sugary drinks tax.

Kang said it was something he was passionate about and would push for within the party.
Mika Haka said The Opportunities Party absolutely wanted a sugar tax.

"And why stop there. We want a junk food tax. We want to tax those saturated fats, those salts, those sugars, based on grams, and that money going back to healthier foods, water fountains and heaven knows what else we need in this country so people can live."

Labour's Jenny Salesa said the party did not have a policy to tax sugar right now but, if elected, would set reduction targets for added sugars in processed foods over a three year period.

"Our belief is we should look at sugar in food as well as drinks."

Green Party health spokesperson Julia-Anne Genter said they fully supported a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and had been advocating for it.

"We have plenty of evidence that over-consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages are one of the largest drivers of obesity and we know that excise taxes work to reduce consumption when combined with a whole host of other policies around availability, advertising and other public health mechanisms."

No National representative took up the offer to be part of the panel discussion. Health Minister Jonathan Coleman had prior parliamentary commitments in Wellington and the timing of the event meant no suitable fill-ins were available, a spokeswoman said.


In a statement, Coleman told the Herald the party was not actively considering a sugar tax but were keeping a watching brief on trials around the world.