Sugary drinks tax remains a necessity to reduce obesity and improve health

Monday, January 8, 2018

Government action to curb the consumption of sugary drinks in Australia is still a priority, ‘over a year after we first raised this issue and released a position statement on it’, says the nation’s leading public healthcare body, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).

‘We fully support the AMA and other health and healthcare organisations in continuing to advocate for a levy on sugar-sweetened drinks’, said AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven.

‘Our consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages remains among the highest in the world, with Australians and New Zealanders consuming an average of 76 litres of these drinks per person every year’, said AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven.

‘We are obviously not having these drinks as an occasional treat.

‘With some cans of soft drink containing 9 to 10 teaspoons of sugar, and no other worthwhile nutrients, this is clearly an unnecessary intake of kilojoules that we could easily do without in the interests of reducing obesity and encouraging a healthy body weight.

‘Obesity is the leading cause of preventable death or illness in Australia—moreso than smoking.

‘Nearly two-thirds of all adults in Australia are overweight or obese. Excess consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks is estimated to be responsible for about one-fifth of the average weight gain among Australians over the last 25 years. The other main causes are consumption of energy-dense nutrient-poor foods, and a lack of exercise.

‘Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks such as cordials, soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit and vegetable drinks, and fortified waters has been clearly associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, tooth erosion and decay, and bone density problems.

‘We therefore call once again on the Australian Government and the state and territory governments, as a matter of urgency, to develop and fund evidence based measures aimed at reducing consumption of these drinks’, said Ms Verhoeven.

‘As we have said before, this could include taxing sugar-sweetened beverages; restricting sales in hospitals and schools; stronger advertising restrictions, especially during children’s television viewing times; mandatory front of package ‘healthy star’ labelling; and public awareness campaigns.

‘Sugar-sweetened drink taxes have already been introduced in many countries overseas, and have been shown to reduce purchases of these drinks and lead to reductions in their sugar content.

‘The UK will be the next country to introduce a sugar tax, in April this year.

‘Revenue raised should be used to fund other preventive health measures proven to work in improving diet and increasing physical activity’, said Ms Verhoeven.

Read the AHHA position statement:

For more information on the AHHA, visit

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, and community and primary healthcare services.

Media enquiries: Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, 0403 282 501