In yesterday's Inside Story report in the Rotorua Daily Post, we looked at the growing call for the Government to tax and regulate the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Health campaigner Dr Gerhard Sundborn says sugary drinks need to be treated as a priority problem for reducing childhood obesity and oral health concerns.

He's leading the call for action from the Government. Ministry of Health figures show almost a third of New Zealand children aged 2 to 14 are obese, although there are undoubtedly a variety of factors behind this.

But Health Minister Tony Ryall says a sugar tax won't work and will make everyone pay in order to influence the behaviour of some.


I'm sure that doesn't stop the Government taxing alcohol though - a few sugary drinks in that category too.

It does seem almost criminal that sugary drinks can be so much cheaper than milk or even bottled water.

Taxes on alcohol and cigarettes go some way to reducing consumption, and to paying something towards the added health system costs.

A sugar tax could do the same thing.

If the science tells us excess sugar consumption leads to obesity and health problems, and studies tell us New Zealanders are consuming too much sugar, then as a society we need to accept that taxation is a legitimate remedy.

It's too easy to bury our heads in the sand and hope things turn out all right.

The right move now could and should lead in years to come to a healthier nation spending less in tax dollars on healthcare.