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?