Fresh calls for sugar tax on soft drinks: ‘It will save lives’

The Australian Pharmacopoeia is calling for a sugar tax on soft drinks. (Source: Getty)

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) argues that Australia should follow suit in other countries and impose a tax on sugary drinks.

Australia lags more than 85 countries and jurisdictions and risks being ‘odd out’ if it does not introduce a tax, according to a new report from the Physician Lobby Group.

“Australians drink as much sugary drinks as 960 Olympic swimming pools each year. Instead, we need something to help people choose water,” said the AMA vice president. Dr. Danielle McMullen said.

According to the report, an average 375 mL soft drink can contains more sugar than the recommended daily amount and offers little nutritional benefit.

The AMA has asked the federal government to impose a tax of 40 cents for every 100 grams of sugar added to beverages.

“This means that regular canned sodas will cost just 16 cents more, but the health benefits will be huge,” says McMullen.

The proposed tax applies to all non-alcoholic beverages containing free sugar, excluding 100% fruit juices, milk-based drinks and cordial drinks.

The AMA estimates that the move will eliminate 16,000 cases of type 2 diabetes, 1,110 cases of stroke and 4,440 cases of heart disease over 25 years.

It also said the tax would generate up to $814 million in annual revenue, which could be spent on preventative health measures.

“The AMA will continue to push for a sugary drink tax because it’s the right thing to do for Australian health. It will save lives and millions of dollars in health care costs,” said McMullen.

According to the report, 36% of adults and 41% of children drink sugary drinks at least once a week, and 9% of adults and 7% of children drink it every day.

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