HEALTH LOBBY SHOULD GET SERIOUS ABOUT ADDRESSING OBESITY

21 June 2017

MEDIA RELEASE

 

 HEALTH LOBBY SHOULD GET SERIOUS ABOUT ADDRESSING OBESITY

 

Australian Beverages Council CEO Geoff Parker today dismissed a study announced by the Cancer Council claiming that a sugar tax would boost the economy and reduce obesity rates.

“A sugar tax is not the solution to obesity,” Mr. Parker said.

“Obesity is a serious issue so we should have a serious discussion about addressing it. This latest study is a disappointing and simplistic addition to the public debate which does little to address the issue.

“The authors claim that a new tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) will lead to a decrease in calorific consumption.

“This assumes that people will automatically substitute taxed products for untaxed alternatives even though this is not supported by reviews of real-world data from other countries.[1]&[2]

The Wall Street Journal, for instance, reported last year that soda sales in Mexico have risen despite the introduction of a tax in 2013.

“In Berkley, a study by sugar tax advocates showed that while there has been a drop in soft drinks, there has been a subsequent rise in other higher calorie beverages meaning calorie consumption has actually increased.[3]

“The notion that a sugar tax helps solve obesity just isn’t backed up by real world examples.

“This latest study would like to impose a 20% SSB tax on soft drink consumers for what they claim will be 0.02% decline in obesity after 25 years.

“I urge the public to decide whether they consider this worthwhile.

“Mexico’s soda tax had a devastating effect on the economy, costing 10,000 jobs in the beverage industry and ultimately had no positive impact on calorie intake.

“Sugar taxes haven’t worked anywhere they have been tried. They punish people and industries like local manufacturing who can least afford it, and do nothing to address a genuine public health issue.

“The last thing Australia needs is another new and unnecessary tax.”

 

[1] Bes-Rastrollo, M., Sayon-Orea, C., Ruiz-Canela, M. & Martinez-Gonzalez, M. A. 2016. Impact of sugars and sugar taxation on body weight control: A comprehensive literature review. Obesity, 24, 1410-26.

[2] Mabel Andalón & John Gibson. The ‘Soda Tax’ is Unlikely to Make Mexicans Lighter: New Evidence on Biases in Elasticities of Demand for Soda. Institute of Labor Economics. 2017.

[3] Barry M. Popkin, et. al., Changes in prices, sales, consumer spending, and beverage consumption one year after a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in Berkeley, California, US: A before-and-after study, PLOS Medicine, 2017.

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