OPC applauds Greens for committing to sugary drinks tax

22 Jun 2016

The Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) has welcomed The Greens' pledge to introduce a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks as part of its broader plan to combat Australia's worsening obesity problem.

The Greens have today committed to introducing a 20 per cent levy on the retail price of drinks with more than 5g of sugar per 100mL, with the revenue to be spent on public health initiatives.

OPC Executive Manager Jane Martin said: "A sugary drinks tax would bring Australia into line with other countries that recognise the enormous potential a sugary drinks levy can have on reducing the burden of overweight and obesity on individuals, communities and the economy.
"Sugary drinks are the largest contributor of added sugar in Australians' diets. We congratulate The Greens for showing leadership in this obesity prevention policy. A sugary drinks tax should be considered by all political parties as an important element of a comprehensive strategy to address poor diets and unhealthy weight."

Research from the OPC and The University of Queensland's School of Public Health indicated that a 20 per cent increase in the price of sugary drinks has the potential to reduce consumption by as much as 12 per cent and save more than 1,600 lives within 25 years of the tax being introduced, while raising more than $400 million per year for much-needed obesity prevention initiatives. [1]
The Greens also outlined plans to make clear food labelling laws mandatory and introduce effective restrictions on junk food marketing to children.
Ms Martin said along with a sugary drinks tax, these policies are vital elements of an urgently needed national obesity strategy.
"In Australia, 63 per cent of adults and 27 per cent of children are overweight or obese, yet we still don't have a national obesity strategy with the measures necessary to help address this very serious health problem," Ms Martin said.
"There is an urgent need for strong leadership and comprehensive action by Australia's policy makers to halt increasing overweight and obesity rates and avoid unsustainable burdens on Australia's health system, economy and society."
The Obesity Policy Coalition recommends four key actions by all national parties to address the obesity problem:
  1. Develop and implement a long-term, comprehensive, integrated healthy weight strategy.
  2. Take action to substantially reduce children's exposure to unhealthy food marketing.
  3. Introduce a 20 per cent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, and use the money raised to offer healthy food subsidies for people on low incomes and support obesity prevention initiatives.
  4. Make the Health Star Rating System mandatory, to ensure it is displayed on all packaged food products.
[1] Veerman JL, Sacks G, Antonopoulos N, Martin J, “The impact of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages on health and health care costs; a modelling study”, (2016) PloS One, 11(4) http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0151460