Greens to tax sugary drinks to help curb childhood obesity & diabetes

Dollarphotoclub_78224801National health stakeholders welcomed The Greens party policy announcement today (June 22, 2016) to introduce a price increase of 20 per cent on sugar-sweetened drinks, or around 20 cents on a can of Coca Cola.

Greens leader and former GP and public health expert, The Hon. Richard Di Natale MP aims to tackle Australia’s growing rate of obesity, based on predictions that a 20 per cent tax increase on sugary drinks would reduce consumption rates by around 12 per cent, leading to a more than 1 per cent reduction in obesity rates nation-wide.

The policy follows a standard model used overseas:

  • An excise equivalent to 20 per cent of the retail price levied on water-based beverages with more than 5 grams of sugar per 100 ml;
  • Tax to be paid by producers or importers, not retailers.

The Greens maintain that over four years, $2 billion could be generated by ensuring sugar-sweetened drink manufacturers contribute to the harms their product cause. The party cited every dollar raised would be re-invested into public health, preventative health, and health education.

Given our population’s growing waistline, Senator Di Natale said he is most concerned about the long-term health of our children, given 27 per cent of Aussie kids are now classified as overweight or obese – a worrying statistic which has risen seven per cent rise over the past 20 years.

Due to our ever-increasing waistline, Type 2 diabetes is on the rise, and the disease is now recognised as the fastest growing chronic health condition in Australia, with Diabetes Australia reporting around 280 Australians are diagnosed with diabetes every day, 85 per cent of which is Type 2 (late onset, lifestyle-related diabetes).

Furthermore, one Australian is diagnosed with diabetes every five minutes.

Speaking to The Australian about his new party policy, Senator Di Natale said sugary drinks are a major contributor to childhood obesity.

“Thirty per cent of the added sugar kids consume comes from sugary sweetened drinks, contributing to weight gain and a risk of diabetes.

“Sugary sweetened beverages are a major contributor to increasing rates of childhood obesity, and if this trend continues, our children may be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents,” said Senator Di Natale.

The proposed tax forms part of a broader prevention strategy for obesity that includes clear food labelling; restricting junk food advertising to minors; and encouraging physical activity through active transport.

“The sweetest part of this policy will be the longer term benefits to Australians by reducing chronic disease and achieving better health outcomes,” Senator Di Natale said.

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