Calls To Introduce A Sugar Tax As Obesity Overtakes Smoking As Australia’s Biggest Health Threat!
The Australian Medical Association has called for a sugar tax and controls on junk food as obesity overtakes smoking as our number one health threat.
“The management of the obesity crisis in Australia is a national and economic priority,” the AMA said in 2016, saying it was “overtaking smoking as the major cause of preventable death in Australia.”
It is estimated that around two-thirds of adults and a quarter of children and adolescents are overweight or obese, and the AMA has recommended taxes to increase the cost of sugary drinks and junk food and a ban on marketing them to children.
Our children these days are larger than they’ve ever been. With the increase of technology we are seeing less daily exercise. Kids are spending more time sitting on the couch in front of screens than they are running around outside. Combine that with a diet high in sugar and we’re just asking for trouble.
In fact the Confederation of Australian Sport has backed calls from the AMA for the federal government to step up it’s fight against the nation’s obesity epidemic.
The CAS wants the government to spend at least an extra $230 million more on sport in the community, particularly at junior levels.
“The Confederation of Australian Sport is staggered by figures showing 3.2 million children are not doing enough exercise to meet the Government’s physical activity guidelines,” chief executive Rob Bradley said.
As a mum of two 10 year old boys I welcome this initiative wholeheartedly. I too see the decline in physical activity with my boys. Less and less time is spent outdoors on their bikes and more time is indoors in front of a screen. And yes, before you start pointing fingers I know that’s all about parental control. But let’s not kid ourselves- life is different today. We don’t all live on big suburban blocks where kids can run around the yard all day. Kids aren’t afforded the same luxury of being able to play in the streets with their friends like we did. Whether there are more dangers or not these days, we are a million times more cautious with our kids than our parents were with us. Which results in kids spending more and more time indoors.
As far as food is concerned I think we absolutely need a sugar tax! In what world do we live in when a bottle of coke is cheaper than a bottle of water? Why are nuggets and chips half the price of a salad sandwich? And why are kid’s menus in restaurants full of crap while the adults get all the good stuff. While my kids are now way beyond choosing from the kid’s section I remember going out when they were younger and the only choices were nuggets and chips, margarita pizza or burger and chips all accompanied with a drink and ice cream.
Some form of tax on sugary food and drink has drawn plenty of support from public health advocates, especially because currently junk foods and soft drinks are cheaper than the more nutritious options.
Mexico has led the way in introducing a sugar tax, and the results so far suggest it can have an effect in reducing the consumption of sugary food and drinks.
A recent Australian study estimated that a tax that increased the cost of sugary drinks by 20 per cent could slash consumption by 12.6 per cnet.
So it can work! We know sugar is an addiction. We know it’s bad for us and we know excessive consumption can lead to obesity. The fact that we’re seeing obesity in children as young as 5 years old is a huge concern! And while a sugar tax is not the only answer it is definitely a step in the right direction. Individual eating habits and levels of physical activity are influenced by a broad array of factors, including the health and behaviour of parents, genes, weight at birth, wealth, the social environment, the availability of healthy food and opportunities for activity. The governments job is to help educate people so that they can make informed decisions which will affect their health and that of their children.
What do you think about the introduction of a sugar tax in Australia? Will it help fight obesity?