The Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) has called on the Australian government to urgently invest in public health and obesity prevention to support the wellbeing of Australians, and our economy, in its 2022–2023 pre-budget submission.
OPC has set out three key areas for urgent action to protect the long-term health of Australians, particularly following the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These key areas include:
- Fund and implement the newly released National Obesity Strategy 2022–2030 to improve the food and physical environment at a systems-wide level.
- Fund and implement the National Preventive Health Strategy 2021–2030 to at least 5% of the total national health budget by 2030 and allocate an appropriate level of funding to the 2022–2023 budget.
- Introduce a health levy on sugary drinks to increase the retail price by at least 20% that will generate significant revenues and reduce sugary drink consumption.
Action is needed now to reduce the growing number of Australians, who are above a healthy weight – two thirds of adults and around a quarter of children. After tobacco use, overweight and obesity (8.4%) and poor diet (5.4%) are the risk factors that make the highest contribution to the burden of disease in Australia.
Sugary drinks are a key source of harmful sugars in Australians’ diets. A health levy on these drinks is an effective tool to drive sugary drink companies to reduce the harmful sugars in their drinks and to reduce consumption. As well, a health levy on sugary drinks can raise significant revenue for governments. Recent modelling by the Australian Medical Association found expected annual government revenue of $749 to $814 million from its proposed tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.1
Other key reforms needed to reduce the number of Australians above a healthy weight include protecting children from unhealthy food marketing, improving food labelling by making the Health Star Rating System mandatory and informing consumers about the harmful sugars in packaged foods. Further reforms are needed to improve the composition, labelling and promotion of commercial infant and toddler foods and address the social and economic determinants of health.
With the upcoming federal budget, OPC calls on the Australian government to commit to funding and implementing these critical reforms without delay to support the future health of all Australians.
Read the Obesity Policy Coalition’s 2022–2023 pre-budget submission.