The Obesity Policy Coalition has welcomed a major Grattan Institute report
recommending the introduction of a tax on sugary drinks in Australia, which is
urgently needed to help curb increasing rates of obesity and chronic disease.
Obesity Policy Coalition executive manager Jane Martin said sugary drinks taxes
were becoming the norm around the world, with 16 countries now having
implemented or announced the measure.
“Australia is facing an obesity crisis with almost two-thirds of adults and more
than a quarter of children now overweight or obese,” Ms Martin said.
“The evidence is in – we know from overseas experience that taxing sugary
drinks works to reduce consumption, particularly among young people, which is
why the World Health Organization recommends the policy and countries like the
UK and South Africa have jumped on board.
“A 600ml bottle of soft drink contains 16 teaspoons of sugar and about 1000
unnecessary kilojoules, with absolutely no nutritional value.
“We know a tax on sugary drinks can help reduce rates of obesity and chronic
disease, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which will overwhelm our
health system in the near future without decisive action.”
Ms Martin said there was strong public support for a tax on sugary drinks, with
69% of Australian grocery buyers supporting the measure if the revenue is used
to subsidise healthy foods.1
“We need to get serious about acknowledging the true cost of these drinks, and a
sugary drinks tax is the best way to do this,” Ms Martin said.
“Australians are heavy consumers of sugary drinks and consumption is highest
among younger Australians and those on low-incomes, which unfairly burdens
these groups with an increased risk of chronic disease.
When the price increases, it influences these groups to shift away from sugary
Ms Martin said pockets of the community had already acted to reduce
consumption of sugary drinks, with the YMCA phasing out the sale of sugary
drinks in its venues, and some hospitals and sporting clubs adopting other
measures to encourage healthier drink choices.
“It’s time for the Federal Government to do its part and announce a plan to
implement a tax on sugary drinks, as part of a comprehensive plan for reducing
rates of overweight and obesity in Australia,” Ms Martin said.
 Morley B et al., ‘Public Opinion on Food-related Obesity Prevention Policy Initiatives' (2012) 23(2) Health Promotion Journal of Australia