Doctors renew calls for Australian sugar tax

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Canberra, Jan 20 (IANS) Australia’s top doctors’ body on Friday renewed calls for a tax on sugary drinks, warning the country risks being left behind on the issue.

According to the Australian Medical Association (AMA), a tax of 40 cents for every 100 grams of sugar added to beverages would help lower the obesity rate and raise funds for public health campaigns, reports Xinhua news agency.

It said if Australia joined 85 countries and regions around the world in implementing such a tax, the government could collect an extra A$814 million ($563 million) annually in revenue.

“Australians drink enough sugary drinks to fill 960 Olympic swimming pools each year. We need something to help people choose water instead,” Danielle McMullen, the AMA’s vice president, said in a statement on Friday.

“Over a 25-year period, we estimate this would result in 16,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, 4,400 fewer cases of heart disease and 1,100 fewer cases of stroke.”

A report published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in August found that, as of 2018, two-thirds of Australian adults — or 12.5 million people — were overweight or obese.

Separate studies have revealed Australians consume twice as much sugar on average as is recommended.

The AMA pointed out that the average 375-milliliter can of soda contains up to 50 grams of sugar — double the daily recommended amount.

On average, Australians consume 2.4 billion liters of sugary drinks every year.

Under the organisation’s proposal, the tax would be worth approximately 16 cents per can, which it said would be enough to “break the addiction”.

“Australia is falling further behind the rest of the world in implementing a sugar tax,” McMullen was quoted as saying.

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