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Tax on "junk food" needed for Pacific islands: expert

Updated: 07 13 , 2015 13:45
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SYDNEY -- A leading doctor has backed calls for Pacific island countries to consider a tax on unhealthy 'junk food' in order to combat health problems associated with obesity.

Secretariat of the Pacific Community director general Dr Colin Tukuitonga told local media on Monday eight Pacific island countries are among the world's top 10 most obese nations and unless drastic measures are taken, the region is headed for disaster.

"Small fragile health systems in the region just wont be able to cope," Tukuitonga said while referring to increased rates of health defects from obesity.

Tukuitonga's call follows a New Zealand study that shows a 20- percent subsidy on fruit and vegetables could prevent or postpone about 560 deaths each year, while a 20-percent tax on major sources of saturated fat could prevent or postpone 1,500 deaths per year.