Inquiry calls for sugar tax on drinks

Boy drinking a soft drink. | Newsreel
An inquiry has called for a tax on sugary drinks. | Photo: Monkey Business Images (iStock)

A Federal Parliamentary committee has recommended the Government introduce a sugar tax on drinks, strengthen food labelling and regulate fast food advertising to children.

The House Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport today tabled the findings of its 12-month inquiry into the state of diabetes in Australia.

Committee Chair Dr Mike Freelander said about 1.5 million Australians, about five per cent of the population, lived with a form of diabetes.

Dr Freelander said it was expected the number of Australians diagnosed with the condition would continue to rise.

“The nation faces what has throughout the inquiry been referred to as a diabetes epidemic,” he said.

The Committee made 23 recommendations which included:

  • Implementing a levy on sugar-sweetened beverages. The levy should be graduated according to the sugar content.
  • Implementing food labelling reforms targeting added sugar to allow consumers to clearly identify the content of added sugar from front-of-pack labelling. This food labelling initiative should be separate from the information regarding added sugar potentially being included in the Nutrition Information Panel.
  • Regulating the marketing and advertising of unhealthy food to children, and that this regulation should focus on children defined as those aged 16 and under; be applied to television, radio, gaming and online; use definition of unhealthy food that has been independently developed.

The committee also recommended a comprehensive economic analysis of the direct and indirect cost of all forms of diabetes in Australia, improved education campaigns and funding for education-based obesity screening information and resources.

Dr Freelander said the aim of the Committee’s report was to improve health outcomes for Australians affected by all forms of diabetes.

“By placing particular emphasis on prevention, the Committee is also seeking to raise awareness of major risk factors associated with the disease, such as obesity.”

See all the recommendations