Aussies call for tax on soft drinks

Nearly half of Australian children aged two to 16 were found to consume sugar-sweetened beverages, including energy drinks, daily. Photo / Thinkstock
Nearly half of Australian children aged two to 16 were found to consume sugar-sweetened beverages, including energy drinks, daily. Photo / Thinkstock

Health organisations in Australia will try to fizzle out soft drinks, calling for a tax on sugary beverages as they launch a new TV campaign warning against its dangers.

The campaign, Rethink Sugary Drink, launched today, will encourage Australians to switch to water and reduced-fat milk and hopes to raise awareness of high sugar levels in soft drinks.

The TV ad, borrowed from a similar New York campaign, is part of a call to action by the Cancer Council, Diabetes Australia and the National Heart Foundation to tackle sugary drinks to stem obesity rates.

They have called for a government tax on sugary drinks and asked schools and non-government organisations to limit their sale and availability.

Cancer Council Australia public health committee chair Craig Sinclair said a regular 600ml soft drink contains about 16 packs of sugar.

"Soft drinks seem innocuous and consumed occasionally they're fine, but soft drink companies have made it so they're seen as part of an everyday diet," Mr Sinclair said in a statement.

"They're often cheaper than bottled water and are advertised relentlessly to teenagers."

Sugary drinks including energy, fruit and sports drinks can cause weight gain and obesity, which are risk factors for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, the groups say.

"They're being consumed at levels that can lead to serious health issues for the population," said Mr Sinclair.

In additions to taxes, the group also recommends restricting the sale and marketing of sugary drinks to children at schools and limiting their availability in workplaces and public places.


Sugary drinks and the health campaign over their availability:

• A 600ml sugar-sweetened soft drink contains 16 packs of sugar
• One soft drink can per day could lead to a 6.75kg weight gain in one year
• In the 12 months to October 2012, Australians bought 1.28 billion litres of drinks with sugar, with regular cola drinks most popular (447 million litres)
• Nearly half (47 per cent) of children (aged two to 16) consumed sugar-sweetened beverages (including energy drinks) daily
• A quarter consumed sugary soft drinks daily
• One in five Australian secondary schools had vending machines, 49 per cent of which contained sports drinks, and 38 per cent soft drinks


Key recommendations of campaign:
• A social marketing campaign, supported by government, to highlight the health impact of soft drinks
• Tax to increase price of sugary drinks
• Government restrictions to reduce children's marketing exposure to sugary drinks through schools and children's sports
• State government restrictions on the sale of sugary drinks in all schools, and encouraging restriction of sugary drinks at children's sports and events
• An investigation by state and local governments into reducing availability of sugary drinks in workplaces, government institutions, health care and other public places

Source: Cancer Council, Diabetes Australia and the National Heart Foundation of Australia


- AAP

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