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Australian doctors use social media to call for sugar tax on soft drinks

19 January 2022

Media Source: The Guardian

A new campaign targeting the 2.4bn litres of sugary drinks consumed by Australians each year is being launched by the Australian Medical Association as it steps up its calls for a sugar tax.

The “sickly sweet” social media campaign, launched on Wednesday, highlights the role sugary drinks play in Australia’s obesity epidemic, with the average 375ml can of soft drink containing between eight and 12 teaspoons of sugar.

AMA modelling suggests a tax of 40 cents per 100 grams of sugar – meaning a can of Coke would cost 16 cents more – would reduce sugar consumption via sweet drinks by 12-18%.

Frequent consumption of sugary drinks is linked to poor dental health and illnesses associated with obesity such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

The AMA says Australians drink the equivalent of 960 Olympic-sized swimming pools of sugary drinks each year.

The association’s president, Dr Omar Khorshid, said what was once a special treat had become an everyday product fuelling addiction and major health problems.

“It’s a staggering figure, and we think Aussies need to know what they are consuming and the impact it can have on their long-term health,” Khorshid said in a statement to mark the campaign launch. “Sugary drinks are a ticking timebomb for the nation’s health and we urge Australians to choose water whenever they can.”

The AMA is pushing Australia to follow the UK’s lead and introduce a tax on the sugar in the drinks – but only those that have no nutritional benefit.

This would be all non-alcoholic drinks containing free sugars – excluding 100% fruit juice, milk-based drinks and cordials. The AMA modelling on such a tax suggests that sugar consumption could be reduced by up to 43,804 tonnes a year.

Read the full article here >

Read ADA NSW's position statemement on sugar sweetened beverages >

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