Australia should follow the lead of other countries and put a tax on sugary drinks, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has argued.
A new report from the doctors’ lobby group found Australia was lagging behind more than 85 countries and jurisdictions, and risked being the “odd one out” if it didn’t implement the tax.
“Australians drink enough sugary drinks to fill 960 Olympic swimming pools each year. We need something to help people choose water instead,” AMA vice-president Dr Danielle McMullen said.
According to the report, the average 375 mL can of soft drink contains more than the daily recommended amount of sugar and provides almost no nutritional benefit.
The AMA has called on the Federal Government to tax 40 cents for every 100 grams of sugar added to drinks.
“That will mean just a 16-cent increase to the price of a regular can of fizzy drink, but for that you’ll get a great health outcome,” McMullen said.
The proposed tax would apply to all non-alcoholic drinks containing free sugars and would not include 100 per cent fruit juice, milk-based and cordial drinks.
The AMA estimated the move would result in 16,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, 1,110 fewer cases of stroke and 4,440 fewer cases of heart disease over a 25-year period.
The tax would also generate revenue of up to $814 million annually, it said, which could be spent on preventative health measures.
“The AMA will continue pushing for a sugary-drinks tax because it’s the right thing to do for the health of Australians. It will save lives and millions of dollars in healthcare costs,” McMullen said.
According to the report, 36 per cent of adults and 41 per cent of children drink sugar-sweetened beverages at least once a week, while 9 per cent of adults and 7 per cent of kids drink them daily.