Media Statement
27 August, 2015

New Jamie Oliver program misses the mark on global and local health issues

Responding to Jamie Oliver’s television program ‘Jamie’s Sugar Rush,’ which calls for a ‘sugar tax’ to address sugar consumption and its impact on health, Geoff Parker, Australian Beverages Council CEO, states:

“Jamie Oliver’s program incorrectly claims that a soft drink tax can curb obesity, singling out soft drinks as the major cause of this pressing public health issue. Statistics, insights and real world experiences continue to show that soft drinks taxes are unproductive.

“The program relies heavily on the example of the so far ineffective soft drink tax imposed by the Mexican Government. Global examples have shown that soft drink taxes fail to have a meaningful impact on obesity rates and ultimately serve as a Band-Aid solution to a complex public health issue, which first and foremost requires access to adequate nutrition education and health care.

“In Australia, only 1.8 per cent of the daily intake of kilojoules comes from soft drinks1 and the amount of sugar consumed through soft drinks has in fact dropped while obesity continues to rise. Three out of the four top selling soft drinks in this country are actually diet and low-kilojoule. 2 What’s more, a tax on soft drinks oversimplifies consumer behaviour. If soft drink prices were increased, there is no compelling evidence to show this would reduce obesity rates in Australia.

“As a parent, I believe in the importance of teaching my child what a balanced diet looks like. Similarly, the Australian beverages industry has strict policies on responsible marketing and provides clear kilojoule labelling so parents can make choices that are right for them and their families.

“Taxes or limitations don’t teach healthy lifestyles – if we want a healthier country, we need better education about exercise and balanced diets. Celebrity scare tactics are far from helpful.”

Ends

For more information contact:
Geoff Parker, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Beverages Council, M: 0407 646 195

REFERENCES
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014, Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Food and Nutrients, 2011-12, cat. no. 4364.0.55.007, viewed 2 August 2014,
http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.007~2011-12~Main%20Features~Discretionary%20foods~700. These results are based on Day 1 Intake data only.
*Soft drinks include regular, diet, low kJ.
2. Levy G.S., Shrapnel W.S. (2014) Quenching Australia’s thirst: a trend analysis of water-based beverage sales from 1997 to 2011. Nutrition & Dietetics. doi: 10.1111/1747-0080.12108.

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