New report supports sugar tax

A tax on sugary drinks would help make back some of the cost of obesity to Australia, a report by think tank the Grattan Institute claims. 

The report calls for an excise tax of 40 cents per 100 grams of sugar, applied to all non-alcoholic, water based drinks that contain added sugar.  The A sugary drinks tax: recovering the community costs of obesity report calculated that obesity costs Australian taxpayers more than $5.3 billion a year, and said the proposed tax would raise about $500 million annually. The report estimated about 10 per cent of Australia’s obesity problem was due to sugar-sweetened beverages.

Grattan Institute Health Program Director Stephen Duckett said obesity was “one of the greatest public health challenges of modern Australia”.  

The report was released at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday. 

Federal Rural Health Assistant Minister Dr David Gillespie said “any calls for a sugar tax are not in line with government thinking at all”. 

“To cherry pick one source of calories from all the abundance of food is not a logical response to a very complex problem,” Dr Gillespie said. 

“What the Australian government is doing is a multi-pronged, multi-faceted approach to this [obesity] issue.” 

University of Tasmania School of Health Sciences Professor of Sports and Exercise Science Professor Andrew Hills said effective prevention was preferable to a sugar tax. 

“To focus on one food or particular factor and apply that to taxation … is insufficient,” Professor Hills said.