THE sugar tax proposed by our nation’s leading health organisation is awakening us all to the obesity health epidemic gripping our country.
Twenty-eight per cent of Australian adults are obese and over a quarter of children are overweight or obese — and these numbers are only expected to rise.
The sugar tax would increase the price of foods based on their health readings. Food containing saturated fat, excess salt or sugar would hurt the hip pocket a lot more than the love handles already do. In contrast, fruits and vegetables would receive a subsidy.
Not only would the proposed tax extend lives, it would also save approximately $3.4 billion in healthcare.
Kyabram District Health Service chief executive David Edwards says the sugar tax would be welcomed by medical professionals.
“Kyabram District Health Service supports the development of a multi-faceted national obesity prevention strategy,” he said.
“The national strategy will require the implementation of a range of healthy lifestyle solutions.
“Despite the challenges gathering specific data, our community mirrors the national profile and we are providing an increasing number of services to patients and clients with obesity-related illness.
“As part of a suite of measures, a levy or tax on high sugar beverages would be a valuable component in obesity prevention.
“Any measure that reduces the impact of obesity in our community will ultimately reduce demand for chronic disease health services.”
Infinity Health owner Russell Jarret likewise supports the sugar tax, but is sceptical whether it would make any real difference to people’s habits.
“I feel a sugar tax would be worthwhile but it should form part of a monumental shift in attitudes in Australia,” Russell said.
“It’s definitely not going to stop people; it may make them think twice about their choices but it won’t stop them from consuming that food or that drink.
“It’ll curb some people’s consumption but you already have a tax on alcohol and a tax on smokes, so it won’t change everyone’s behaviour.
“No matter how much the prices get raised by, people will manage to find the money to pay for it.
“If you think about it now, how much is a pack of cigarettes to buy? They average $30 and people are still buying those.
“You have to make the time and be committed to a healthier lifestyle; it really is all about self awareness.”
Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten both rejected the sugar tax in early 2017. However a recent poll by The Guardian Essential demonstrates that the majority of Australians are in favour of a tax on sugar.