Renewed push for sugar tax

Health organisations are pushing for a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks.

Renewed push for sugar tax

A coalition of 34 high-profile leading health organisations including the Cancer Council are pushing for a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks, calling them a greater risk to Australians than smoking.

The groups are also calling on the Federal Government to establish a tough new obesity prevention policy as a national priority, through mandatory health-star ratings for food packaging, a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks and the establishment of a national obesity taskforce.

The rate of obesity in Australia continues to climb, with 27 per cent of children and 63 per cent of adults either obese or overweight. The rate of obesity in adults has more than tripled since the 1980s.

Health Minister Greg Hunt and the Federal Government do not support a new tax on sugar.

"We don't believe increasing the family grocery bill at the supermarket is the answer to this challenge," said a spokesperson for the Minister.

"Obesity and poor diets are a complex public health issue with multiple contributing factors, requiring a community-wide approach as well as behaviour change by individuals."

According to Professor of epidemiology and equity in public health at Deakin University, Anna Peeters, the Government can no longer afford to do nothing.

“If current trends continue, there will be approximately 1.75 million deaths in people over the age of 20 years caused by diseases linked to overweight and obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, between 2011 and 2050,” she said.

What do you think? Is it time for the Federal Government to implement a strategy to tackle obesity in Australia and tackle our sugary drink crisis?

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    COMMENTS

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    Old grey
    19th Sep 2017
    10:17am
    Who determines what is "obese"? I'm 6'1", weigh about 94Kg, and have read tables that describe me as obese. That may have been the case 70+ years ago, but now? Sounds like the vocal minorities are getting another campaign together, with them saying they are right so everyone else is wrong, and we must all follow their instructions or else.
    Agree that something needs to be done, but education and guidance is always a better bet. Still, another tax may just help the current government in balancing the books, or maybe just increase the funds to their cronies.
    jackie
    19th Sep 2017
    10:41am
    I put on a lot of weight and never consumed soft drinks. I don't think it's fair to blame obesity entirely on them. Everything we eat is tainted with something that can affect your health. There are chemicals in our water supply, GMO fruit/ vegetables, farmed animals/fish and the ingredients in processed foods leave a lot to be desired upon our health. People in the past consumed a lot of sugar and weren't obese but then their foods were pure not like our tainted food.
    Rosret
    19th Sep 2017
    11:32am
    Agreed Jackie. I think the water is fine but the chickens grow too fast, by design, as does the fruit. Fish is grain fed so they don't have the omega 3 we need. Margarine is a bad replacement for butter. etc etc etc
    Truth be told there are too many people on the planet and this was a means to reduce starvation.
    I think if they doubled the price of fast food it would still be cheaper than eating proper food.
    Tib
    19th Sep 2017
    12:02pm
    It's not a conspiracy , they use BMI which is mainly BS. But it is true we are getting fatter. You know that by just sitting at the mall and watching all the lard arses go by.
    Kopernicus
    21st Sep 2017
    10:31pm
    Old grey, your BMI is weight in KG/ divided by kg in meters squared ie BMI = 94/1.85X1.85=27. Normal ranger 1s 18-25. However if you are older than, say 65-70, the range rises to ~22-27. (it's better to carry some extra wt when you're older)

    In short, your weight is perfect for your height.

    19th Sep 2017
    10:34am
    I can't see too much wrong with taxing sugary drinks, but I would not like to see the tax broadened too much to punish anyone with a sweet tooth, regardless of their overall health and eating habits.

    What I would like to see is increased medical insurance costs for anyone whose obesity is causing or is likely to cause health issues - properly reflecting the added cost they impose on society. Give them a warning and assistance to change their eating habits, and a grace period during which they should demonstrate that they have changed their lifestyle and are losing weight. If they fail to adjust their lifestyle, or return to their bad habits later, increase their medical insurance.

    I would also like to see parents of obese children compelled to enter counselling and implement family lifestyle changes, or charged with neglect. It's downright cruel to let a child become obese (Of course exceptions must be made for kids with conditions like Prada Willi syndrome etc.)

    We do need to tackle the problem head on. What confounds me is that anyone would let themselves become obese. Surely it doesn't feel good and it hurts to look in the mirror? It's hard to manage portions and make time for regular exercise, and there are rich rewards in terms of feeling and looking good, being able to readily find clothing that looks good on you, and having more self-esteem.
    Anonymous
    19th Sep 2017
    10:36am
    That said, depression is often a factor in obesity. Many depressed people over-eat, perhaps because eating or eating sugary foods can be comforting. And exercise is often hard for depressed people. Obese people should be assessed for depression and treated if there are mental health issues driving their poor lifestyle choices.
    Tom Tank
    19th Sep 2017
    11:01am
    The problem the Government have with a sugar tax is the impact that will have on the National Party voters in the sugar cane industry.
    Once again politics will triumph over common sense.
    Added sugar is not necessary for a healthy diet, in fact it is unhealthy but don't let good health get in the way of a politician and his supporter.
    Rosret
    19th Sep 2017
    11:38am
    A tax on sugar won't affect the sugar industry. Nutritious food is so much more expensive than processed foods and sodas.
    Sugar is also being used in ethanol production so will that increase the price of petrol? Will that further starve the population of a food source as it gets channeled away from us to our cars?
    PlanB
    19th Sep 2017
    11:02am
    we are becoming a Nanny country -- there are many people that are JUST big people -- same as there are SHORT and TALL --
    Also if they go on the BMI -- Body Mass Index --- THAT is a load of absolute rubbish I am just 50 Kilos and was told I was just right when I was 40 -- what a lot of rot.

    Let people decide for themselves --
    Rosret
    19th Sep 2017
    11:43am
    Who told you 40 kg was OK?
    Actually PlanB we are totally controlled by the food industry - hence the obesity crisis.
    We actually need to get control back and start demanding quality food. All our good stuff is exported - cherries, lamb etc. I miss our good food. Even bread is not made properly anymore.
    PlanB
    19th Sep 2017
    12:09pm
    Roseret, it was the Dr that said that weight was perfect for me by the BMI-- --

    I was too darn thin and it was b4 I got very ill, BMI is absolute rubbish!
    Eddy
    19th Sep 2017
    12:43pm
    PlanB, when I see someone use the line 'we are becoming a nanny country' it gets my ire up. What do you propose, that all legal restrictions on human activity be abandoned? We have always been a 'nanny state', we face legal restrictions in nearly every facet of our lives. To name a few, we need a building permit to build something on our own property, we need a licence to drive a motor vehicle and we have speed limits when we do drive. We need a licence to own a firearm and you can't go and buy explosives or a tub of cyanide or a hunting knife at any hardware store. The list of 'nanny state' restrictions is almost endless.
    However back onto subject, I am ambivalent regarding a sugar tax, I can see pros and cons. However I have no such uncertainty re tobacco taxes, I would like to see them raised several hundred percent. And then there is chewing gum.........End of rant
    Eddy
    19th Sep 2017
    12:48pm
    I might add that I, under instruction from you-know-who, have deleted some high sugar content foods from my diet, such as Tim Tams, sustegen etc. We eat mostly fresh' food and avoid, where possible, processed foods. My BMI is still wavering around 30.
    Annick
    19th Sep 2017
    11:07am
    All foods and drinks should only have a sugar content of less than 4g. Sugar is being added to all types of food. Baked Beans now have a sugar content of 13.4g per 400g tin this is not needed. Low fat Yoghurts have a sugar content of up to 18g which makes them unhealthy. WE need the manufacturers of our food to be more responsible in how the make our foods. All foods should be low fat. little to no sugar and a minimum of salt. Tax all companies who wont reduced the amount of sugar fat and salt in their products.
    cupoftea
    19th Sep 2017
    11:33am
    Annick you are so right i am a diabetic 2 whats,low in sugar high in salt and viser versa, it is what they dont tell that to me is the reason why iam 30 kg over weight
    PlanB
    19th Sep 2017
    11:48am
    I feel for you dreamer, my Son is also a Diabetic and it is so darn hard to get the reading right -- I feel for those that have to watch what they eat so darn hard.
    Rosret
    19th Sep 2017
    11:23am
    It is not the answer.
    How many times does someone have to point out that something is wrong with the food in the supermarket and the fast food outlets.
    Food producers have worked out how to make food very palatable and not very filling. Look at the customers in MacDonalds!
    The government needs to overhaul the food industry and the education system.
    The 30 year old+ parent generation are unaware of what is in the food they serve. They have been taught that cereal is healthy!
    Take a look at a box of whatever, the list of chemicals is mind boggling.
    We didn't have flavoured milk as children or the abundance of soda drinks.
    Get the junk out of the school canteens - and teachers and "other" parents - stop feeding the children.
    Its birthday party cakes. reward lollies and other high fat foods.
    Its rewards at sporting venues, its chocolate fund raising - It doesn't end - week after week.
    AutumnOz
    19th Sep 2017
    1:46pm
    Agreed Rosret.
    On a visit to Sydney I noticed the amount of rubbish being sold in the supermarkets is appalling several aisles have biscuits, sweets or chocolates taking up half an aisle each, the amount of soft sugary drinks is unbelievable.
    The meat and dairy foods are in open fronted refrigerators and as for the deli items the piles of different processed meats, cheeses etc. amazed me. It can't be healthy to store and sell things from an open fronted refrigerator.
    I was glad to get home again to our small town supermarket with enough staff to serve people and answer questions if they cannot find the item they want.
    Hasbeen
    19th Sep 2017
    11:54am
    Having locked themselves to the anti smoking campaign for decade these rent seeking organisations are searching for a new product to vilify & campaign against. Without some vilified product to campaign against they have lost their relevancy, & don't like that, or the likelihood of falling donations & government grants.

    The fact that they love hearing their own voices, seeing themselves on TV or in print makes this loss of relevancy even harder to take for them for them, even if a boon for us.
    Puglet
    19th Sep 2017
    12:05pm
    Rosret and others are correct. We are one of the fattest nations on earth. Children are developing Type 2 diabetes by the time they are 10. Their teeth are rotten and they are too fat to move. Morbidly obese people cost us billions because they need joint replacements, their hearts and kidneys fail, they require limb amputations, they go blind and die early. Ambulances have to be rebuilt to accommodate the obese and hospitals have to modify wheel chairs, scales, theatre tables etc. As a nation we are addicted to sugar which is added to almost every supermarket item. A sugar tax on soft drinks is not the sole answer but it will help. Until Australians stop eating far too much, limit portions of manufactured food, keep out of Maccas and get off their bottoms and exercise our children will be the first to die before their parents for 100 years.
    Tib
    19th Sep 2017
    12:09pm
    Here's an idea stop drinking soft drink and eating processed food and they will stop making it. Then I guess the US corn syrup industry will have to kill someone else for profit.
    KSS
    19th Sep 2017
    1:33pm
    Yes the US corn industry does have a lot to answer for Tib. But we do not use high fructose corn syrup in anything like the quantities in Australia as they do over there.
    Tib
    19th Sep 2017
    5:07pm
    KSS I would be surprised if it wasn't in our US style soft drinks and our processed food. If we are using less maybe that's why we are not quire as fat as Americans.
    Tib
    19th Sep 2017
    12:16pm
    The two things I really hate is BMI which isn't a good measure. The other is fat shaming large women. Women should be allowed to enjoy their type 2 diabetes without any comment from us. But feel free to call men fat any time you like they might do something about it.
    Jim
    19th Sep 2017
    12:27pm
    So sugar is now considered worse for our health than smoking, does that mean all the extra taxes I paid when I was a smoker will now be refunded? I obviously make that comment in jest, but I do question the research that comes up with all of the reason we get a variety of diseases that kill us off, I know for certain I don't feel any better for not smoking, maybe I will live longer, but if research keeps going they will find something else that's going to knock me off. I do remember as a child of the 40s and into the 50s we used to eat lots of sugar even resorting to sugar and condensed milk sandwiches when there wasn't much else to eat, I don't remember anyone in my neighbourhood being over weight let alone being obese, we didn't have soft drinks or fast food, we also didn't spend much time indoors no matter what the weather was like, we always found something to do just to keep warm, so I am not sure what the cause of the current increase in obesity is, but just sugar can't be to blame.
    Eddy
    19th Sep 2017
    4:06pm
    Yes Dim, I also remember the bread and dripping after school and milk arrowroot biscuits smothered with butter and sugar, yum.
    I never had condensed milk as a kid but when I joined the military the tube of condensed milk in the ration pack was the first thing 'down the hatch'. I suspect our level of activity was our saving grace.
    Rosret
    19th Sep 2017
    8:16pm
    Of course its not worse than cigarette smoking.
    Sugar is a food - it just needs to be moderated and not added to everything.

    19th Sep 2017
    1:05pm
    Agree 120% with the tax on sugar
    But we should broaden it to cover alcohol, processed foods , fatty foods and junk food
    Rosret
    19th Sep 2017
    8:18pm
    Or we could not tax food at all and have enough money to buy quality food.
    Anonymous
    20th Sep 2017
    8:09am
    Or we could just ban pleasure and enjoyment of any kind and let everyone suffer a life of misery. Geez, Raphael! What a sick world you propose!
    ex PS
    20th Sep 2017
    9:43am
    Pity we can't tax stupidity, all our problems would be solved.
    AutumnOz
    19th Sep 2017
    1:33pm
    I doubt sugar is the cause of obesity, at the risk of someone taking offence - the so called obesity epidemic started somewhere in the late 1990s after many years of people at fast food outlets owned and franchised by multinational companies - it was also around then that children stopped playing outside most of the day and became glued to either TV or computer screens.
    It is more likely that lack of fresh foods (not the rubbish we can buy in supermarkets labelled fresh produce) and good quality meat and most of all encouraging our children to exercise for a couple of hours per day would go a long way to helping them on the way to better health.
    I wonder if the people who keep coming up with all these ideas about what is good for us and what is bad for us have the slightest feeling of regret for the depression and anxiety they cause to many people who take two teaspoons of sugar in their coffee or eat a slice of cake with a cup of tea.
    When I was young girls were slim, mothers and mature females were well rounded and there were very few very fat people as there are now. The problem has to be something that has been added to our food without our knowledge, identifying it and removing it would cure the problem of overweight more readily than imposing a tax on sugar.
    TREBOR
    19th Sep 2017
    1:49pm
    Do those who are slim get a discount on their sugar?
    AutumnOz
    19th Sep 2017
    3:21pm
    Probably not :-)
    KSS
    19th Sep 2017
    2:09pm
    You can all get upset about the 'nanny state', the veracity of the BMI scale, 'fat shaming', food manufactures and their 'bliss point', and PC defense about how 'it's not their fault they are fat' along with the puerile anecdotes akin to 'my Uncle smoked 50 a day for 50 years and didn't get cancer' crap, but it doesn't change the facts. And the facts are that 2/3rds of Australian adults are FAT along with almost 25% of their kids!

    There are a number of reasons for this of course from dinner plates that in the past would have been serving platters, to the ever increasing range of food stuffs our Grandparents wouldn't recognise. Of course personal responsibility doesn't exist for many. It is so much more convenient to blame the 'unseen others'. At the same time it is disingenuous of the food and drink manufacturers to claim to be guilt free when they spend millions research just the right amount of sweetness people tolerate before it is deemed to be too sweet. We have way too many of these frakenfoods today in bigger portions with greater accessibility than ever before. And what is in all of them? SUGAR.
    Starting with a tax on soft drink is a good start given that " consumption records from the late 1990s (based on supply) indicate that Australians on average consume 113 litres of regular and diet soft drink annually" DoH Victoria 2009. Teenage boys drink about a litre a day! If nothing else soft drink is a nutritional wasteland.
    Nor do I accept Mr Hunt's sudden concern for the household budget either. He has no concern hitting the budgets every year of smokers and drinkers.

    I support this tax proposal to begin with soft drinks to curb their consumption and sincerely hope it is extended to cover all junk food of no or little nutritional value. Put the new revenue into subsidising fresh foods and everyone will win. The libertines will still be able to buy their sugar laden goods, and others will be able to afford better quality food stuffs.
    Tib
    19th Sep 2017
    5:29pm
    I don't disagree with anything you have said. But I don't think teenage girls are drinking much less soft drink considering the average waddling lump we call a teeage girl these days, by the way most of them look like their mother.
    Both of them would do much better drinking more water and less soft drink. I find we have to filter tap water and put bubbles in it to make it drinkable. Being a hiker and having drunk water often enough from mountain streams I know that what we get out of our taps doesn't qualify. I agree with the tax but I don't believe you can stop stupid people from doing stupid things.
    Kopernicus
    21st Sep 2017
    10:38pm
    There's nowhere the tax gonna go other than the govt coffers. It should go into a smart TV ad campaign. Same as smoking, this will hit the poorest the most, but a packet of fags is~$30, that hurts.A a cheap drink being a bit over a dollar may have small impact only.
    Priscilla
    19th Sep 2017
    2:26pm
    Another tax! We are so over-taxed it is a wonder we are able to exist at all, nevermind get fat! Ridiculous!
    Maggi14au
    19th Sep 2017
    7:46pm
    If we are going to tax food etc why not SALT as it's in everything even yoghurt and soft drinks
    ex PS
    20th Sep 2017
    9:41am
    Here's an idea,lets have a greed tax, greed leads to gluttony which leads to obesity that leads to health problems.
    So let's tax rich people and use that money to reduce the cost of healthy food. What's that MT, if we do that the rich will have less money to donate to politics, so sorry, forgive me, how could I be sooo stupid. You're quite right, let's stick to ripping off the poor so that we can support the wealthy by actually cutting their tax.
    ex PS
    20th Sep 2017
    9:46am
    Funny, we can tax sugar because it is bad for us, but we can't tax carbon pollution, can anyone else see the hypocrisy here? Is clean air and a healthy planet less important than someone not looking good in Lycra?
    Triss
    20th Sep 2017
    2:27pm
    No, no, no. Haven't we seen enough soaring prices due to governments sticking their oars in? A tax on sugar will give everyone the opportunity to tax everything. The price of a coffee will be up by the same percentage as sugar regardless of whether you take sugar. And that price gouge will be replicated everywhere.
    Watto
    20th Sep 2017
    8:40pm
    " Agree 120% with the tax on sugar
    But we should broaden it to cover alcohol, processed foods , fatty foods and junk food "
    Oh Raphael what a bundle of fun you are.

    Oh I forgot your one of the vegetarians aren't you.
    MD
    20th Sep 2017
    9:19pm
    How sweet it is - contemplating another tax. Just as another post has already mentioned, if such a tax is implemented it could well prove to be the thin edge of the wedge. Speaking of wedgies reminds me of recent air travel and having seated and strapped in I then observed the grossly over represented number of (grossly overweight) travelers that huffed and puffed their way down the aisle to allocated seating into which, with no small degree of difficulty, they shimmied and shied their surfeit of indulgence. So, all things being equal one can only surmise that it's only a matter of time before airlines will charge a fat tax for passengers over a prescribed weight - much akin to luggage restrictions.
    On a serious note and back here in the land of the breathing, living, sleeping, work shirking and all you can eat fraternity sugar or not, nobody is force fed, everybody is personally responsible for both the amount of food and what form of it they choose to shove down their own gullet. As a youngster at school, fat kids were the exception rather that the rule, nowadays fat kids are the rule and trim kids are the exception, far too many parents/grandparents being seen as poor role models.
    Sure, go ahead and fat tax the lolly water and the poor silly fat bastards'll stop buying it, right - not. Just look at the current price of a packet of fags - the result of all those nasty taxes to save us from ourselves and yet the poor dopey suckers buying em don't gag at the exorbitant cost or expire on the spot. Any product price increase, whether the result of a tax or otherwise is unlikely to protect consumers from their own gross stupidity.
    "Let them eat cake".
    ex PS
    21st Sep 2017
    9:23am
    Good logic M.D, this tax will not reduce obesity, it will just raise revenue for the government. And will the government undertake to quarantine this revenue for medical use only? I bet not.
    maxchugg
    21st Sep 2017
    12:29pm
    At the outset, let me make it clear that the less sugar in the diet the better. I used to use prescription antacids regularly, but after more than halving my sugar intake, my stock of prescription antacids date expired, I haven't needed them in years.

    But the excuses for imposing a new tax simply don't stack up. We are being told that parents will begin to outlive their children, which assumes that in their younger years the parents did not drink large amounts of sugary drinks.

    Education, not tax would appear to be the way to go.
    Kopernicus
    21st Sep 2017
    10:39pm
    Maybe the diff was that we walked to school and played outdoors and didn't sit in front of computers.
    Spondonian
    22nd Sep 2017
    2:41pm
    We are becoming a Nanny State more and more . This tax will only get lost in General Revenue as another tax grab. Any answer to any problem seems to be a tax grab God forbid we SPEND any money on education or other means of solving a problem .


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