this strategy works, and what’s more, a number of polls have now shown that more than half of Kiwis support this initiative. Here’s comments that we’ve heard: 1. “Just subsidise fruit and vegetables”…we completely agree and we believe that the proceeds of the proposed tax should go towards healthy eating initiatives just like this. 2. “I just don’t believe that a tax will work”…these taxes do decrease consumption of sugary drinks - just as similar taxation of tobacco decreased smoking rates. 3. “Parents should be educated about the dangers of sugary drinks”… education is absolutely a part of the solution - taxation alone is not the whole answer. However, public health education programmes have been around for years, yet our obesity rates continue to climb. 4. “But I consume responsibly - why am I being punished?”…the cost to these kids is far greater than the extra cost to someone who has a sugary drink on the odd occasion. We have to think of the greater good. For too long, the sugary beverage companies have been allowed to profit from products which harm the health of our kids. It’s time to take back control of our health. To join our Sweet Rebellion, visit www.sweetrebellion. co.nz, like us on https://www. facebook.com/sweetrebellionz/ or sign the petition at https://www. change.org/p/parliament-petition for-a-tax-on-sugar-sweetened beverages Sweet Rebellion is an initiative developed by ‘Students with a Social Conscience’, a group of medical students who are aiming to make New Zealand a healthier place to live by campaigning for a tax on sugary drinks. www.foodtechnology.co.nz 49 JOIN THE SWEET Undergraduate medical student and Sweet Rebellion founder Dr Tiffany Parmenter says it’s time sugary drinks are taxed out of existence…and she’s doing something about it. Recently, as part of our undergraduate medical training, we undertook a project aiming to devise strategies to address childhood obesity. During the course of this week-long project, we discovered that in the Growing Up in New Zealand Study, 5% REBELLION of four-year-olds were found to be consuming fizzy drinks daily. Sugary drink intake is now widely recognised as an important cause of childhood obesity, and they are also linked with illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, raised blood pressure, gout, tooth decay and weight gain. Perhaps it’s not surprising then that we have one of the highest childhood obesity rates in the world, with around one-in-10 Kiwi kids weighing in as obese. The problem with childhood obesity isn’t just one of appearance and self-esteem. Obesity EIT, seeing it is an opportunity to join a school that is building an international reputation. “It’s important not be seen as educating winemakers and viticulturists just for the Hawke’s Bay or New Zealand industry,” he says. “We are educating them to work anywhere.” Teaching wine business management and winery engineering, Mackenzie has worked in a variety of industry roles – winemaker, consultant winemaker, general manager and production manager – for leading New Zealand wineries such as the Mud House Wine Group, Waiaua Bay Farm (encompassing Te Awa, Dry River and Kidnapper Cliffs), Spy Valley Wines and the Framingham Wine Company. Establishing his own business Ant Mackenzie Wines in Hawke’s Bay in 2013, he has launched his own range of wines over the past two years. Mackenzie has also undertaken vintage and consultancy work for wineries in China, Spain, the USA and Australia, as well as in New Zealand. A senior wine judge at the New Zealand International Wine Show, he has judged in many other competitions, including the Hawke’s Bay A & P Bayleys Wine Awards. Growing up in Napier, Mackenzie attended Tamatea High School before leaving Hawke’s Bay to study at university. He believes EIT’s viticulture and wine science programmes are the most connected with the New Zealand industry. “They offer the best in practical and theoretical learning,” poses serious health risks, including increased risk of hip malformations that require surgical correction and type 2 diabetes. During this project, we also interviewed a number of non-profit and community organisations. Many of these expressed frustration about being unable to take a stance on this debate, due to financial dependence on government or private companies with conflicting financial interests. Our Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has made it very clear that the National government will not consider a sugar tax, despite the mounting evidence that it is an effective strategy to reduce consumption of sugary drinks. Because of this, the hands of some of New Zealand’s biggest health advocates are tied - they are unable to voice their support for a public health initiative with strong supporting data. Instead, the government’s anti-obesity brain-child is the Child Obesity Plan (ChOP) which focuses on lifestyle-behavioural change at the individual level. Unfortunately, this plan ignores the evidence, that is agreed upon by reputable organisations such as the WHO and the NZ Heart Foundation, that long-term change is best achieved by a complementary programme of strategies acting at the individual and population levels, including regulatory changes such as sugary drinks taxes. We would love to claim that we are terribly clever and forward-thinking in this strategy, but the fact is that the concept of a sugary drinks tax is in no way a novel one. The evidence is there that he says. “It’s super to be part of that.” Wine science lecturers Ant Mackenzie, left, and David Bloomfield check out at the wine cellar at EIT’s School of Viticulture and Wine Science.
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