Peter Clark says sugar tax could have made Australia healthier again

An accredited practising dietitian and nutritionist is disappointed with a federal government decision to reject a proposal to consider a sugar tax.

Peter Clark says the Gratten Institute report suggested a 40c/100gr of sugar tax would raise $500 million for the government and reduce the intake of sugar sweetened drinks by as much as 15%.

“A sugar tax is not the panacea to obesity, but should be seen as one part of a programme that would require a whole suite of new policies and programs,” he said.

Mr Clark said the report showed that a 40 cents per 100 grams of sugar on all non-alcoholic, water-based drinks that contain added sugar would increase the price of a two-litre bottle of soft drink by about 80 cents 

“It would raise about $500 million a year and would generate a fall of about 15 per cent in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.”

The dietitian said he accepted the new tax would not be a ‘silver bullet’ solution to Australia’s obesity epidemic – that would require a suite of new policies and programs – but it would encourage healthier lifestyles

France, Belgium, Hungary, Finland, Chile, the UK, Ireland, South Africa and parts of the United States have or are planning to introduce a tax on soft drinks.

He said there is strong evidence that subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables that reduce prices by 10–30 per cent are effective in increasing fruit and vegetable.

Mr Clark said the World Health Organisation recommends sugar intake to be <10 per cent of total energy intake.

“A high intake increases the risk of dental carries and a range of metabolic diseases. A further reduction to below 5 per cent or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits,” he added.

Click here for the Gratten Institute report on the proposal.

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