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Will a sugar tax stop the obesity epidemic?

It’s a tragic fact: Australia is dealing with an obesity epidemic. Along with obesity, we’re seeing a significant increase in heart disease, diabetes and even certain cancers. Unfortunately, there seems to be no easy solution.

Now, three of Australia’s most influential health groups are pointing the finger at sugary soft drinks. The Heart Foundation of Australia, Diabetes Australia and the Cancer Council together have launched the Rethink Sugary Drink campaign (which, by the way was taken from the successful 1Cal advertisements), which aims to get schools to ban soft drinks. They also want to see the Federal Government introduce a so-called “sugar tax” on sugary beverages. But will this stop the obesity epidemic?

According to the Rethink Sugar Drink campaign, drinking just one can of soft drink per day could cause a weight gain of 6.75kg in a year. This figure is based on a US study, but calories are calories no matter where you live. The campaign also emphasises the proven link between a high sugar diet and disease, and questions why we’re exposing our children to these potential health problems. A healthy diet is important at every stage of life, but particularly so during our formative years. The things we eat and drink as children become the benchmark for our diets as adults.

In a recent radio interview, the Heart Foundation’s Kellie-Ann Jolly explained the sugar tax in more detail. “We want to investigate some of the tax options and get Federal Government to have a look at this to see whether increasing the price of sugary drinks can have an impact on consumption. We've seen this through tobacco and there are reviews that have been undertaken in America that actually shows that if we can increase the price, then there is a likelihood that we can actually decrease the consumption,” she said.

The three health groups would also like to see governments introduce tough restrictions on the advertising of soft drinks and on the sale of them in schools, many of which still have vending machines selling sugar-laden drinks.

Opposing the idea of a sugar tax is the Australian Beverages Council, which represents soft drink manufacturers around the country. According to the Council, sugary drinks contain “energy”, which children need so that they can run around. We’ll let you be the judge of how sound that argument is…

We have 2 healthy alternatives for you:

1CAL is a Stevia-based healthy alternative to mainstream soft drinks. It is a refreshing, lightly carbonated beverage containing vitamins and electrolytes and only one calorie per 100ml.
SweetLeaf Water Pack comprising Valencia Orange, Lemon and Berry flavours - all ideally suited to add to water.

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