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.