AUSTRALIA – Rethink Sugary Drink alliance, comprised of leading health organizations in Australia, is advocating for a 20 percent levy on sugary drink manufacturers, backed by new research revealing potential positive impacts on Australians’ health and healthcare funding. 

In a joint position statement, alliance members, including the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Cancer Council Australia, Australian Dental Association, Food for Health Alliance, and Heart Foundation, urged the government to implement the proposed health levy.  

According to AMA President Professor Steve Robson, the policy could generate approximately US$1 billion annually, contributing to obesity prevention and broader health initiatives. 

The research conducted by AMA indicates that the suggested health levy has the potential to reduce Australians’ annual sugar intake by nearly 2.6 kilograms per person, equivalent to around 650 teaspoons of sugar.  

Professor Robson emphasized the dual benefits of the policy, stating, “This policy really is a no-brainer—it would raise vital funds for preventive health and protect Australians’ health by decreasing the risk of diseases linked to excess weight like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers.” 

The Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Tanya Buchanan, highlighted the lack of nutritional value in sugary drinks and their role in contributing to weight gain and obesity.  

Drawing attention to international examples, she urged the Australian government to prioritize community health, following the lead of over 100 countries and jurisdictions that have already implemented health levies on sugary drinks. 

The alliance’s call for action comes when the Australian Beverages Council and major non-alcoholic drink companies committed to the Sugar Reduction Pledge in 2018.  

The pledge aimed to reduce sugar across portfolios by 25% from 2015 to 2025, with signatories achieving an 18% reduction as of December 31, 2022. 

Professor Robson concluded by emphasizing the potential financial impact of the health levy, stating, “Our modeling shows that a 20% health levy on sugary drink manufacturers could raise around US$4 billion over four years.  

These funds could be invested into crucial health promotion campaigns, reducing pressure on our stretched health system.” 

The alliance’s proposal seeks to address the ongoing challenge of obesity in Australia and aligns with global efforts to curb the consumption of sugary beverages through targeted policies and initiatives. 

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