On the 7th of March 2015, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne made the extraordinary statement that sugar is not the primary issue associated with tooth decay.
This is what he said on the TV Show Sunday One man’s mission to get rid of our sweet tooth at 9m15s.
Peter Dunne: “There is no guarantee that a tax on sugary drinks will actually mean less consumption of those drinks by the target audience.”
Sunday: “Peter Dunne says the answer to our oral health problems could lie in more education and fluoridation.”
PD: “We are certainly looking at that (fluoridation) because we know from the evidence that it works.”
Sunday “Shouldn’t we also be attacking the consumption of sugary drinks?”
PD: “Oh no, if we attack the causes of dental decay in New Zealand, if we attack the apathy that surrounds Oral Health, if we attack the gaps in terms of the provision of quality service then we’ll make an impact. And that really is my focus.”
Sunday “But doesn’t it all start with sugar?”
PD: “No it doesn’t start with sugar?”
Sunday “I learnt in school that you don’t have too much sugar because it is going to put holes in your teeth”.
PD: “It starts with cleaning your teeth twice a day. It starts with good oral health hygiene habits”.
Sunday “You don’t think as a nation that consumes about 50 Kilos of sugar per person per year that we are addicted to sugar?”
PD: “I don’t think we are addicted to sugar. I don’t think it is a good thing that we are consume that amount of sugar per capita but I don’t think that we can put a tax on sugary drinks and it all goes away”.