Media Statement

19 June, 2015

Taxes on soft drinks don’t teach healthy lifestyles

Responding to the Mexican National Institute of Public Health and the University of North Carolina’s study of the impact of Mexico’s national tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, Australian Beverages Council CEO Geoff Parker said:

“The Mexican government said that the tax was implemented to reduce obesity yet it has failed to make a meaningful change to Mexicans’ calorie intake.

“Following the implementation of the Mexican tax in 2014, calories from sugary beverages was reduced by an average of 6.2 calories per day from an overall, and much greater, 3,025 daily calorie average dietary intake for Mexicans. This represents a tiny 0.20% of energy from the average daily diet and would result in less than 300 grams  (<2/3 lb) weight loss in a year – an amount hard to identify on most bathroom scales.

“The latest study reiterates that a tax on sugar fails to have a meaningful impact on obesity but instead hits low-and middle income families, who can’t afford another tax on their supermarket trolley.

Imposing bans, additional taxes, or limitations on the consumption of sugary beverages alone to reduce obesity is ineffective and fails to address the root cause of the problem.

  • To single out one ingredient as some kind of unique contributor to obesity is misguided. In Australia only 1.8 per cent of the daily intake of kJs for adults comes from soft drinks1and in fact, the amount of sugar consumed through soft drinks has dropped while obesity continues to rise.2
  • Australia already has a price differential through the GST that makes unprocessed foods and drinks cheaper, by up to 10%. If the Government was seriously considering a discriminatory tax on a particular food or drink to either raise revenue and/or attempt to tackle the growing waistlines of Australians, then the industry would instead recommend a broader tax reform through the GST, an increased emphasis on raising people’s awareness of the whole diet, and programs to get people, especially kids, more physically active.
  • “Taxes don’t teach healthy lifestyles; if we want a healthier country, we need better education about exercise and balanced diets. A balanced diet, moderation and exercise are key to a healthy lifestyle, not a tax on sugar-sweetened soft drinks.

Ends

For more information contact:

Geoff Parker, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Beverages Council, M: 0407 646 195

Penelope Holloway, M: 0401 323 611

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.

  1. 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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