Tax on sugary drinks hits the sweet spot for our health

A tax on sugary drinks is an idea whose time has come, the Consumers Health Forum says.

“The latest analysis from the Grattan Institute makes a strong case for a tax on sugar sweetened beverages. It adds to the growing calls from health leaders for Australia to take this vital step to reduce obesity,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

“There are now 15  countries which have implemented a tax on sugary drinks, or plan to do so, along with four cities and districts in the United States.

“Australia’s adult obesity rate is among the highest in the world and demands more concerted counter-measures.  While a sugar tax is but one important action we can take to encourage healthier lifestyles in Australia, it would send a tangible message to consumers alerting them to unhealthy level of sugar in their soft drink.

“The sugar tax would not only generate an additional $500 million in revenue for the Government, it could be expected to generate a slight reduction in the prevalence of obesity,” the Grattan report finds.

“We know that as with tobacco, increased taxes can help reduce sales. The virtue of a sugar tax is that the evidence shows it can have a population-wide impact in supporting lower consumption of sugar that plays such a significant role in the health challenges of modern life like obesity and diabetes.

“To those who might argue that a tax intrudes on people’s right to choose, we say they should consider the enormous personal and public costs of obesity borne by the community, like the estimated $5.3 billion a year in higher health care and welfare expenditure  and other costs resulting from obesity.

“Just as Australia led the world in reducing tobacco use and saving thousands of lives and billions in health expenditure, it is time for us now to take concrete steps to reduce our sugar consumption,” Ms Wells said.


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Mark Metherell
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