No Aussie sugar tax despite renewed push by doctors

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 8th January 2018

The Australian Federal Government has said it has no intentions of introducing a tax on sugary drinks despite renewed calls to do so from the Australian Medical Association.

Late last week, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) released its 2018 nutrition statement, saying a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages should be introduced as a matter of priority.

Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunter, has however told AAP that the current Federal Government does not support a tax on sugary drinks as a way of addressing obesity.

“Unlike the Labor party, we don’t believe increasing the family grocery bill at the supermarket is the answer to this challenge,” Minister Hunt said.

Call to also ban kids ‘junk food’ advertising

The AMA’s 2018 nutrition statement also says advertising and marketing of ‘junk food’ and sugary drinks to children should be banned.

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said advertising and marketing of such foods is undermining healthy food education.

“Advertising and marketing unhealthy food and drink to children should be prohibited altogether, and the loophole that allows children to be exposed to junk food and alcohol advertising during coverage of sporting events must be closed,” Dr Gannon said.

“The food industry claims to subscribe to a voluntary code, but the reality is that this kind of advertising is increasing. The AMA calls on the food industry to stop this practice immediately.”

More nutrition education for parents

The position statement further calls for increased nutrition education and support to be provided to new and expecting parents.

The AMA says eating habits can be affected by institutions such as schools, aged care facilities and hospitals.

“Whether people are admitted to hospital or just visiting a friend or family member, they can be very receptive to messages from doctors and other health workers about healthy eating,” Dr Gannon said.

“Hospitals and other health facilities must provide healthy food options for residents, visitors, and employees.

“Vending machines containing sugary drinks and unhealthy food options should be removed from all health care settings, and replaced with machines offering only healthy options.”


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