High praise from leading health experts for UK's sweet tax on sugary drinks

17 March 2016

The Rethink Sugary Drink alliance has commended the UK government for committing to introduce a tax on sugary drinks; and urge the Australian Government to investigate the effectiveness of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and to follow the UK’s lead.

Designed to effectively discourage consumption of a product that contributes substantially to poor diet and chronic disease risk, the tax will follow suit of other countries including Hungary, Mexico, France, and the Californian city of Berkeley, when they introduce the tax in 2018.

CEO of Diabetes Australia, Greg Johnson, said there is a direct link between regular sugary drink consumption and weight related chronic health problems including increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes by 22%.

“Many Australians underestimate the health problems related to excess sugary drink consumption including type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, stroke and some cancers. Sugary drinks can also lead to tooth decay,” said Mr Johnson.

“A contributing factor to this is price and availability of sugar-sweetened beverages.”

Chair of the Public Health Committee at Cancer Council Australia, Craig Sinclair, said Australia is among the top 10 countries for per capita consumption of soft drinks.

“Research shows that a retail price increase of around 20 percent would be the most effective1 in reducing the consumption of these sugar-laden drinks,” Mr Sinclair says.

"Not to mention, there is strong public support for this type of taxation if the revenue is used to encourage healthy eating."

Similarly in the UK revenue will be put into fitness programs and extended school hours for children so they can take part in more sport.”

“In light of the UK’s announcement we call on the Australian Government to investigate a tax to encourage Australians to limit their sugary drink consumption and in turn potentially slow down Australia’s obesity epidemic.”

The coalition of health organisations behind Rethink Sugary Drink recommends an investigation by the federal Department of Treasury and Finance into tax options to increase the price of sugar-sweetened beverages relative to healthier options to change purchasing habits and achieve healthier diets. The coalition has five other recommendations to tackle consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

  1. Dharmasena S, Capps O. Intended and unintended consequences of a proposed national tax on sugar sweetened beverages to combat the US obesity problem. Health Economics 2011; doi: 10.1002/hec.1738.

About Rethink Sugary Drink: Rethink Sugary Drink is a partnership between the Australian Dental Association, Cancer Council Australia, Dental Health Services Victoria, Dental Hygienists Association of Australia, Diabetes Australia, Heart Foundation, Kidney Health Australia, Nutrition Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, National Stroke Foundation, the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the YMCA to raise awareness of the amount of sugar in sugar-sweetened beverages and encourage Australians to reduce their consumption. Visit www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au for more information.