A health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages is a necessary part of a broader national nutrition strategy to reduce obesity and disease, according to a medical peak body.
Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) supports the Australian Medical Association’s recent calls for the price to be increased on sugary drinks. It is then essential that revenue raised is directed effectively toward preventive health programs.
PHAA chief executive officer Michael Moore said the association supported a levy.
“The PHAA advocates for a health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages because the evidence shows it’s an effective way to influence consumer purchasing behaviour away from these unhealthy drinks.
“There is much more awareness now of the damage sugary drinks can inflict on their consumers’ health, such as their direct correlation with obesity and the development of Type 2 Diabetes.
“While there has been an attempt at the message of consuming these discretionary foods and beverages in moderation, it has been ineffective in significantly reducing excessive consumption of sugary drinks.
“Twenty-six other countries have already implemented a health levy on sugary drinks. A similar approach would be a substantial step forward for Australia to tackle soaring rates of obesity and associated non-communicable diseases.”
In its response to the 2017 National Health Budget in May last year, the PHAA called for an increase in prevention funding, which sits at 1.5 per cent of overall health expenditure.
“There is an estimation that a price increase on sugar-sweetened beverages in Australia would generate more than $500 million a year. If this were targeted directly toward preventive health measures aimed at improving nutrition and physical activity levels among Australians, it would save lives,” Mr Moore said.
“It’s time the price of unhealthy foods and drinks reflect the true health costs associated with their consumption.”