Shockingly, New Zealand are the bronze medal winners in the Obesity Olympics – yes, we are the third fattest nation in the world after USA and Mexico. However, just as shocking is the fact that people living in lower socio-economic areas have three times the number of fast food and takeaway outlets around them than those in less deprived areas, new research shows.
They are also shown more advertisements for unhealthy food and have more shelf space devoted to junk food in their local supermarket, according to a three-year study by University of Auckland researchers, who, in a world first, have mapped the country's food environments and policies.
"Diets have changed enormously in the last several decades, largely because of the increased processed packaged foods, the number of fast food outlets in places has increased in density, the marketing has become much more sophisticated," Auckland University Nutrition and Global Health Professor Boyd Swinburn says. The unhealthy foods available in and around schools is what health professionals are most surprised by - as well as "the degree of discrepancy of food outlets in high-income versus low-income neighborhoods".
Whatever the Food and Beverage lobby group say, we know that education doesn’t work, self regulation doesn’t work and self control doesn’t work – we just get fatter year on year, and suffer the consequences of obesity heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The threat of a sugar tax in the UK for all softdrinks with over 8% added sugar content, resulted in 50% of companies reducing their sugar content. Ribena cut their sugar content by half and Lucozade by almost 2/3rds.
Just Water say, “Let’s go for a ‘sugar reduction incentive’ – everybody would agree that softdrinks with more than 10% added sugar are not good for anyone, so they get penalised with a 25% levy. Nobody would pay it, because they would them find a way to reduce their sugar content then.”
As Just Water say, currently we incentivise manufacturers to increase their sugar content, let’s go the other way, and introduce a sugar reduction incentive, and for more information on filters, coolers and drinking water please go to www.justwater.co.nz .