Labour, Greens want tax incentives for healthier eating

GST
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Opposition parties are calling for healthy eating policies following the release of a report showing New Zealand has one of the highest rates of diabetes among developed countries.

An international team of researchers, working with the World Health Organisation, found that New Zealand was among the top five nations where blood glucose levels indicated diabetes was the highest.

Labour leader Phil Goff said today the report was further evidence of the need for policies that brought healthy food into the affordability range of all families.

"That's what Labour is doing with its policy on fresh fruit and vegetables," he said, referring to its pledge to remove GST from those products.

"The Auckland University Medical School said very clearly the best way to bring down problems like obsesity and therefore diabetes is to lower the cost of healthy foods."

Labour's health spokesman, Grant Robertson, said the report was "a damning indictment of the Government's health priorities".

"Not only did it drop nutrition and physical activity from its health targets in 2009, but it also slashed funding for the Healthy Eating Healthy Action and the healthy eating in schools programme, and axed funding for the Obesity Action Coalition," he said.

The Green Party said the report "exposes the folly of the Government's refusal to promote healthy eating policies".

Health spokeswoman Sue Kedgley said the Government had done nothing to tackle the diabetes epidemic.

"The Government knows poor nutrition is one of the biggest killers of New Zealanders but instead of doing something good about it, they dumped healthy eating programmes," she said.

"Now, we're heading for more unnecessary deaths, escalating health costs and, eventually, massive health budget blow-outs."

Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton said a levy on sugary drinks would help reduce diabetes.

"Without a levy, everyone has to pay more tax to the health system to help pay for diabetes treatment," he said.

"A little prevention is a better alternative than a lot of costly treatment after the damage has been done."

Diabetes New Zealand president Chris Baty said when the report was released yesterday that the Government needed to make diabetes prevention a priority.

Otago University's professor of nutrition and medicine, Jim Mann, said there was no specific public health programme in New Zealand to deal with the obesity problem.

Obesity and diabetes were intrinsically linked and Type 2 diabetes, the most common type, was linked with obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said progress on diabetes was one of the Government's six main health targets and it was spending aboput $65 million on keeping children and people active, including KiwiSport, Green Prescription and nutrional programmes.

Mr Ryall said a major review of the Diabetes Get Checked programme has been under way for five months and he was looking forward to the results.

The international study found that Pacific Island nations were the most at risk, with the highest diabetes levels in the world.

The increase in diabetes was highest in North America and comparatively small in Western Europe.

The United States, Greenland, Malta, New Zealand and Spain had the highest diabetes and blood glucose levels, while the Netherlands, Austria and France had the lowest.


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No government should be trying to protect the minority from themselves. It's called Natural Selection. These minorities need to take responsibilities for their own actions – legislation will not stop them eating all the pies!

Trouble is – for too long we have had all manner of PC talk overriding reality and sugar coating this reality – so as not to offend or upset anyone. The reality is though – these people are fat – not “overweight or “rubenesque” but fat – and often too lazy to exercise! I know, I used to be one – until I started on the Dukan diet and started exercising – then plenty of my health issues vanished because I was treating my body with a little respect and watching what and how I ate. Everyone can do it – but most are too lazy to get off their butts – especially if most things in life are handed to you for free – why motivate yourself when you don’t have to?

Instead of legislating for the minority –these fat, lazy people should take personal responsibility for their current situation and do something about it! Airlines should most definitely charge the fatties for 2 seats if they are taking up 2 seats – simple really!

Reality is though – changing bad eating habits is hard, but if the person who owns the mouth won’t/doesn’t want to change their behaviour – legislation / tax incentives won’t really help either.

Ask a chubber/fatty in line at KFC if they will be ordering the salad, or suggest they should for health reasons – and just watch the unfriendly response back – so even providing healthier options like McD does (Yeah Right!) there’s still plenty of really fat heavyweights buying Big Macs by the 3 & 4 at a time – because being lazy extends to personal responsibility also.

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The true libertarian view. Some people have the right to eat all the junk food they want. The tax-paying population, in general, has the right, to fund the junk-food eaters huge call on the public health-care system. Or does 'natural selection' remove their right to treatment? And how will that work?

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User pays is the answer. THey can't pay? Too bad - go see ya GP or go without.

For too long NZ have supported blatent bludgers who take no responsibility for their own actions.

They know sooner or later they will have to eventually pay the price for overeating - and the price is what the hospitals charge - cant' pay? Don't use or expect to use the public health system.

So they die earlier than they might have otherwise - natural selection. It's also their personal responsibility - so if they want a longer life - start taking positive actions today - and not relying on or blaming othersw for their predicament.

Problem solved.

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I totally support the notion of individual responsibility, but the core of our health system is the taxpayer funded. (Even National and Act - the Claytons right wing - wouldn't dare to change that.) Obesity results in a big public health cost, therefore, maybe it is time we put a price on trans fats. The so-called 'Restaurant Brands' outfit could pay penalty company tax contributions directly into the health system. Doesn't the right wing mantra 'user pays' apply here?

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First, liberals have no core moral values, everything is relative. Consequently without moral values it is very hard to internally determine right from wrong. As such, they listen to people who tell them nonsense that makes them "feel" good. You know, save the (planet, whales, seals, kids, trees, fish, bugs, etc.)

Second, they really aren't very wise. Maybe good IQs but absolutely no common sense. Mix a three digit IQ with a lack of common sense and you have a smart fool.

Because they believe in things that make them feel good, they think they are morally superior. They consequently know what is best for everyone. However, when they try to tell everyone what is good for them, most of the everyones actually have common sense and consider the advice foolish. To overcome this the liberal then seek to impose their foolishness through the power of government. This is why governments are full of liberals.

However, to do this the government needs money so the foolish liberals raise taxes on the common sense everyones to pay for imposition of their stupidity.

Consequently, we all have to suffer from liberal imposed stupidity. As such, liberals are very akin to biting bugs, skin rashes, body odor and dog poop on the sidewalks. Just look at Chris Matthews and tell me which of these he isn't.

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lowering the cost will not have an impact, supermarkets will just eat up any gst incentives into their profits but not lowering the price by the full 15% and prices will most prob increase at a steady rate to where they wouldve been had the gst componant not been removed. grow your own veges, its not to hard, who is responsible for actions people take, them or everyone else?

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lowering the cost will not have an impact, supermarkets will just eat up any gst incentives into their profits but not lowering the price by the full 15% and prices will most prob increase at a steady rate to where they wouldve been had the gst componant not been removed. grow your own veges, its not to hard, who is responsible for actions people take, them or everyone else?

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Good one Goof. Ramp up compliance costs, create endless grey areas (shouldn't frozen veges be covered as well - and then frozen french fries are veges too), and as for 'put him out to pasture Anderton', fruit juices contain more sugar than lemonade....yes it is fructose not sucrose, but is that classed as a 'sugary drink'? Fruit, veges and water are all cheaper NOW than fast food, so why in God's name will reducing/eliminating the GST make them any more appealing? Funny though - the 'rich pricks' probably spend more on healthy food, so in effect Goof and Anderton's policy will be a tax cut for the rich. Hahahaha. Now that is funny.

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Another nail in the coffin of the greens and labour. Why do they think personal behaviour or preferences can be controlled by taxes?

Maybe the shopper will use the savings to spend on anoter packet of cigarettes??

This is just mindless political based marketing crap.

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A vote for the" GREENS" will guarentee a life to be lived in a straight jacket, should they ever make the treasury benches.

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"Auckland University Medical School said very clearly the best way to bring down problems like obsesity and therefore diabetes is to lower the cost of healthy foods..." Such BS. How does Phil look at himself in the mirror without laughing????

Why don't they test the theory and be done with the argument? Give a few target families $500 a month for groceries, lowering the cost of their monthly food bill to practically zero. They can then choose all the healthy food they want. According to Phil and the University, they should right? It's all about cost, right Phil? I doubt it very much.

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"The increase in diabetes was highest in North America..."

Fruit and veggies are cheap and plentiful in North America. Weird huh? Yet, according to Phil G and Labour, we should slightly lower the prices here by removing GST and that will help NZ. Doesn't in other places but it will here. Amazing. Fantastic.

Phil G must know something the rest of the world does not.

Maybe he also knows how he can become PM when the rest of the world doesn't.

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Labour might not be able to keep up the Mana Party - but at least they have a new logo.

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Strangely though these policies will have benefits. Those who choose to eat healthily will be rewarded with a tax cut. Those who choose to eat unhealthily will pay more tax if the punitive tax comes in. Therefore user pays kicks in. The unhealthy food-eaters pay for the healthcare they will need. ACT should be proposing this. Goof proposing something I agree with. Maybe I am going mad!

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So Mr Goof, if I order a vegetarian meal in a restaurant, can I have the goods part of GST free? If not, why not....

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I think we should put a tax on Rugby players, extreme sportspeople, and all those idiots that go out into the wilderness and sea and get lost. It costs hundreds of millions in health care for sports injuries and in search and rescue for the idiots that get lost at sea or up mountains. In fact tax the people that sit at home and watch sports and the stations that put it on as they are creating too much sedentary time for people which is another cause of diabetes. All office workers also should be taxed more as they sit down most of the day which also adds to the sedentary risks of type 2 diabetes. Also there should be more taxes on alcohol especially when consumed while watching sports or after doing sports because it turns these people into idiots who cause crime, beat their children and kill people on the roads. (tongue in cheek of course)

Education has got to be the key for the community to reduce waistlines not another tax.

Also attacking the obese verbally or any other way will only "feed" the problem as they become more cut off from society and will hide away at home and may eat to compensate. Many do not know what to do about it and when they try they are ridiculed. How many gyms cater to the obese? How many obese people will want to be seen out in public struggling along the road. How many diets and other advice is out there which confuses and conflicts with each other. It is a vicious cycle. They know it is their fault and don't need people to tell them that they need help in making changes. They cycle can be broken and lives turned around, I know!

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Maybe coupons might work - i.e. a book of carrot coupons or a book of mixed veg coupons. They never seem to contemplate that if Fast food or bad food companies are faced with a loss of business due to cheaper healthy foods (as if they would) that these companies may adjust their prices and marketing to match. Face it bad food either tastes better or is faster and easier to get. I must admit I suffer from a slight weight problem and I can afford and do eat all the healthy options no probs but I choose to eat too much portion control - and often too much of the wrong thing. The price does not affect me. It is not the price that causes the problem its the inclination - Now I must do something about that weight problem.- What's for dinner! and a beer with that - no I shouldn't - no I won't there you go I am cured - for now - today.

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I see a lot of signs about not serving intoxicated persons at bars. Why can't they have a similar sign for fat people at fast food restaurants.

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people suffering and this is the best they can come up with?

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people suffering and this is the best they can come up with?

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These is some pretty bold statements in these comments!

I think we need to ask:

- how well is individual responsibility working well for people (that's people other than just yourself: your community, your health system etc)

- is education the answer to everything, or is that a bit convenient

- does some degree of additional complexity outweigh the value of attempts at positive new initiatives

I don't think it's useful to talk about McDonalds and KFC etc in this discussion. Sure those are fatty foods, but we are talking about unprocessed fruit and vegetables, which provide all kinds of benefits beyond not being fatty or sugary. It isn't likely that govts start seriously limiting fast food franchises, and even if they did, it would only be a small step toward managing the over-representation of things like processed high-carb foods in our diets.

Anony mouse: are they still calling every idea they don't like 'PC' on the talkback station you listen to? Political correctness is about bias in language. People here are talking about new ideas and an attempt to improve a real, tangible problem. Those are different things. You can't expect the state to completely stop caring for its citizens.

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I think its good that something is being suggested, removing GST on fruit and vegetables would be a good start. But I think we need a LOT LOT more action on lowering the BMI of New Zealanders. We have a MASSIVE epidemic on our hands, and it is time we got VERY serious about it. About a quarter of New Zealanders are obese, if that number had the plague, people would be hysterical.

New Zealand spends billions of dollars on treating the end result of peoples overweight and obesity.

I work in a hospital, and I think if the average person knew the full cost and health risks of being overweight and obese they would be absolutely horrified.

We have relied on individual responsiblity so far, and it is just NOT working. It is well researched that obesity and overweight are also related to other factors, a huge one being the access to public transport (increases walking) and active transport (cycling and walking). Successive governments have repeatedly subsidsed roads which leads to sedentary car use. In addition, I am always shocked to see the non stop advertisements on TV for fatty foods, chocolate bars, fast food outlets, deep fried chip makers etc. etc. If we are really serious about obesity I think we should ban advertising for fatty foods like these, just like we have done with cigarette advertising. I know an arbitary line has to be drawn somewhere for advertising against fatty food, but it is a serious issue which is having a devastating impact on the lives of New Zealanders.

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