AMA renews calls for sugar tax

Australian Medical Association

Last week the AMA renewed its call for a sugar tax to combat obesity and chronic disease, launching a new report on the issue.

Last week the AMA renewed its call for a sugar tax to combat obesity and chronic disease, launching a new report on the issue.

The AMA relaunched its SicklySweet campaign with calls for Australia to join the growing number of countries putting a sugar tax on sugary drinks.

The AMA’s latest report on the issue, Why tax sugary drinks?, argues the tax is an effective preventative health measure and would reduce Australians’ consumption of sugary drinks, which are associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.

It shows an additional 40 countries and jurisdictions globally have adopted a sugar tax since the AMA’s first research report in June 2021 and includes a new focus on oral health. The report details how sugary drinks decay and erode teeth and highlights shocking AIHW findings including a prevalence of dental caries in the baby teeth of 42 per cent (four in ten) of Australian children.

The AMA call for a sugar-sweetened beverages tax follows new evidence from the World Health Organization on the effectiveness of sugar taxes around the world in an implementation guide, that also debunks tactics used by drinks industries seeking to dissuade implementation.

The campaign relaunch kicked off with a bang, with AMA Vice President Dr Danielle McMullen joining Sunrise to discuss why a sugar tax is important and what it can achieve. The story was also covered on Sky News, SBS onlineand at length in The Guardian.

Dr McMullen highlighted the fact that Australians drinks enough sugary drinks to fill 960 Olympic swimming pools each year.

The AMA is recommending the federal government add a tax of 40 cents on every 100g of sugar manufacturers add to drinks ─ that will mean just a 16-cent increase to the price of a regular can of fizzy drink, but the health outcomes will be significant for individuals while reducing future burdens on the health system.

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