Sugar tax not the obesity solution: Hunt

The Turnbull Government doesn’t believe in increasing prices to combat obesity, says Health Minister Greg Hunt

Mr Hunt says the Government is “taking action to tackle the challenge of obesity and encourage all Australians to live healthy lives,” but already has programs in place to educate, support and encourage Australians to adopt and maintain a healthy diet and lead an active life.

“Unlike the Labor Party, we don’t believe increasing the family grocery bill at the supermarket is the answer to this challenge,” he stated on Monday.

Mr Hunt was responding to a report in the MJA which examined whether taxing sugar-heavy foods could reduce Australia’s average national intake of 14 teaspoons of “free” sugar each day.

“We acknowledge today’s report, but it does not take into account a number of the Government programs now underway,” Mr Hunt says.

“Obesity and poor diets are complex public health issue with multiple contributing factors, requiring a community-wide approach as well as behaviour change by individuals. We do not support a new tax on sugar to address this issue.

“Fresh fruit and vegetables are already effectively discounted as they do not have a GST applied.

“Whereas the GST is added to the cost of items such as chips, lollies, sugary drinks, confectionery, snacks, ice-cream and biscuits.

“We’re committed to tackling obesity, but increasing the family’s weekly shop at the supermarket isn’t the answer.”

He hinted at an upcoming announcement, flagged by the PM earlier this month, of a new focus on preventive health.

This will give people the right tools and information to live active and healthy lives, he says.

He also cited the launch of the second phase of the Girls Make Your Move campaign, the Sporting Schools program, the Health Star Rating and the Healthy Weight Guide website as examples of Government action on obesity.

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  1. Philip Smith

    No it’s not the solution, but it will help fund fixing the problems the excessive sugar intake both known and hidden cause.

    Everyday we see patients who problems would be non-existant or reduced if they where within a health weight range.

    I have advocated for years we need a carrot and stick approach.

    Stick: If its processed in anyway eg in a packet, tax base on sugar content.

    Carrot: Tax rebate for healthy HbA1c, Blood pressure, Cholesterol and body fat percent (not BMI).

    But I guess its not in pharmacist and doctors best interest for people to be healthy.

  2. Amandarose

    It’s basically a tax on the poor who will have even less money to spend on healthy eating and medication as they don’t have the budgeting power to modify their behavior.

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