22 June, 2016
Soft drink tax an ineffective solution to obesity in Australia
Responding to the announcement from the Australian Greens leader Richard Di Natale regarding a policy proposal for the introduction of a tax on soft drinks, Australian Beverages Council CEO, Geoff Parker said;
“We are disappointed by the extremely simplistic approach being taken by the Australian Greens in relation to tackling obesity rates.
There is no substantial evidence globally that a soft drink tax would have any meaningful impact on improving community health. In fact, research from the McKinsey Global Institute found that a 10 per cent tax on high-sugar products would be one of the least effective measures in combatting obesity, ranking 14th out of 17 intervention methods1. In contrast, portion control had the highest estimated impact with the most cost effective measures.
The experience in Mexico cited in today’s media reports is also far from conclusive. Per capita soft drink consumption in Mexico was falling well before the introduction of a tax and there is little evidence their discriminatory tax has had the effects claimed today.
The soft drink category contributes just 1.7 per cent of the daily intake of kilojoules for Australian adults.2 In addition, nearly one in two drinks consumed is a non-sugar variety (42 per cent volume share in 2011, compared to 30 per cent in 1997). 3
We welcome statements from the Government acknowledging the complex nature of the fight against obesity and their opposition to a beverage tax. We hope the federal Opposition will join with the Government and rule out a tax and rather focus on measures that research shows will have a greater impact.
As an industry, we see education, access to information and moderation in consumption are the best methods to combat the issue of obesity. Beverage consumption is a personal choice and soft drink can safely maintain a place within a balanced diet.”
For more information contact:
Geoff Parker, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Beverages Council, M: 0407 646 195
 Overcoming obesity: An initial economic analysis – McKinsey Global Institute 2014
2 Quenching Australia’s thirst: A trend analysis of water-based beverage sales from 1997 to 2011, Gina S. LEVY and William S. SHRAPNEL – Nutrition & Dietetics 2014
3 Secondary analysis of non-alcoholic beverage consumption from the Australian National Health Survey, (commissioned by the Australian Beverages Council and undertaken by the CSIRO), 2015