Further Calls for 'Sugar Tax' in Australia


Fraser Clarke

A sugar tax could be back on the agenda in Australia, with the country’s medical association calling on the Government to follow the likes of the UK and Portugal in introducing a levy, to deter people from unhealthy products.

Director of Public Health at the AMA, Simon Tatz, was scathing in his assessment of high sugar drinks. He said: “Sugar-sweetened beverages have absolutely no food value.

“The AMA has a policy of price differentiation making a difference to people's behaviour. That's what we saw with tobacco and that's why we support a sugar tax.

“For the AMA, taxing sugary drinks is far from the single solution to the obesity or diabetes epidemics, but it's a good place to start.”

His comments arrived after the AMA’s position statement on nutrition for 2018 highlighted the potential health benefits of ditching sugary beverages.

It said: ‘There is ongoing concern about the health implications of a diet high in refined and added sugar. While some sugar is naturally occurring in foods such as fruit, vegetables and dairy, it is the addition of sugar to processed foods that is concerning.

‘Sugary beverages provide individuals with large quantities of sugar and provide little or no satiety.  Australians consume large quantities of soft drinks. Large container sizes of soft drinks are significantly cheaper than single servings, which also contributes to overconsumption. Flavoured waters, sports drinks and fruit juices also contain significant quantities of added sugars. Energy drinks are popular among young people. These beverages also contain large quantities of caffeine and should not be readily available to those under the age of 18. The AMA supports proposals to apply a tax or levy to sugar-sweetened beverages in Australia in order to reduce consumption.

‘People must be encouraged to drink water and it should be the default beverage option, including all instances where a beverage is provided with a meal. Consuming fluoridated tap water provides additional benefits, including the strengthening of tooth enamel, making teeth more resistant and reducing early decay.’

Despite the clear benefits of reducing people’s sugar consumption however, the calls have so far been dismissed by both the ruling Liberal and challenging Labour parties.

Current Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, told reporters last year that he believed current labelling laws and codes of conduct to prevent children being targeted were tough enough. Meanwhile bosses at the country’s large and influential soft drinks manufacturers have warned that a tax would cost jobs, hit the poorest in society, and have little impact.

We’re interested to know how you feel about a sugar tax. Is it something that you would support, or would it represent too much state interference in everyday life? 

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