The Federal Australian Dental Association (ADA) has congratulated the AMA in calling for an immediate tax on sugar as one of its pillars to improve the nation’s overall health.
“The ADA has called on the government to introduce a tax on sugary foods and drinks for many years because our 17,000 members see the results of high sugar diets on the oral health of Australians every day,” said Dr Mark Hutton, ADA President.
In a speech to the National Press Club (Wednesday 9 June) the AMA President backed the introduction of a sugar tax as part of the strategy to fight chronic diseases including obesity and tooth decay.
Australia is already lagging behind 45 other countries which have implemented such a tax, with successful results including reductions in obesity, Type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases such as tooth decay.
A sugar tax of soft drinks has so far been sidelined in Australia by a voluntary pledge from the soft drinks industry to reduce sugar sold in beverages by 20 per cent over a decade.
ADA surveys show that 47% of Australian adults consume much more than the recommended amount of six teaspoons per day to prevent tooth decay. Many are not aware that a 250ml container of soft drink contains on average ten teaspoons of sugar alone.
“The best option is for drinks manufacturers to wear the extra cost imposed by a government-mandated sugar tax, and the suggestion that the tax is based on the sugar content of the drink is a good one. Whether that cost then gets passed on to the consumer would depend on the manufacturer.
“If for consumers, drinking sugary soft drinks is disincentivised by making them more expensive, it will go some way to reducing sugar consumption and its disastrous knock-on effect for oral health and whole of body health.”
The ADA has suggested over the years that a sugar tax be used to contribute to the funding of its Australian Dental Health Plan.(ADHP).
“Given that the Aged Care Royal Commission has recommended that the ADHP be used as a model for treating older Australians, it would be great to see the revenue from the tax used to provide dental care for this vulnerable group.
“The Australian Dental Association cannot see any real roadblocks to this being embraced and acted upon by the Commonwealth Government.”