Fat Tax Suggested in New Zealand

W E L L I N G T O N, New  Zealand, June 15, 2001 -- A New Zealand nutritional group suggested today that food should be taxed according to its fat content in an effort to curb obesity.

More than half of all New Zealanders are overweight or obese,and obesity claims the lives of more than 1,000 people each year inthis country of 4 million — twice the number killed in trafficaccidents, Agencies for Nutrition Action said today.

"We've got to take action," Agencies chief Sue Zimmerman toldNational Radio. "We're saying if we don't include a reallylong-term commitment to prevention, we're going to be in troublewith this."

While there isn't much evidence that higher taxes would keeppeople from buying high-fat foods, "we're saying we should belooking at it," she said.

Zimmerman said, however, that she believed teaching people howto reduce fat in their diet may be a better way of handling theobesity problem.

"We make fantastic low-fat products in New Zealand but we needmore incentive for their prices to be accessible to those people onlow incomes," she said.

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