The Australian government is facing fresh calls to introduce a sugar tax as part of a plan drawn up by a coalition of health and community groups which want urgent action to tackle the country’s obesity problem. The eight-point plan includes a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks, restrictions on TV junk- food ads, the establishment of a national obesity taskforce, and mandatory health star ratings for food packaging by mid-2019.
The plan has been drawn up by a group of 34 leading health and community groups led by the Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) and includes the Cancer Council, Heart Foundation, several universities and Nutrition Australia.
The OPC estimates that the annual cost of overweight and obesity in Australia between 2011 and 2012 was about $8.6 billion in direct and indirect costs including GP services, hospital care, absenteeism and government subsidies.
Australia’s 8-point obesity action plan
- Time-based restrictions on TV junk-food advertising to kids
- Set clear food reformulation targets
- Make the Health Star Rating mandatory by July 2019
- Develop a national active transport strategy
- Fund weight-related public education campaigns
- Introduce a 20 per cent health levy on sugary drinks
- Establish a national obesity taskforce
- Develop and monitor national diet, physical activity and weight guidelines.
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