More Australians are overweight and obese than every before. Obesity alone is estimated to cost Australian taxpayers over $5.3billion per year. The Grattan Institute is calling for the government to implement a tax on non-alcoholic sugary beverages in a bid to halt growing obesity rates.
The proposed tax, similar to the way cigarettes and leaded petrol is taxed, would see an increase in the price of soft drinks by around 40c per litre. This price increase is expected to reduce consumption by 15% and would raise around $500million for the federal budget. Studies shows that obese people are more likely to go to the doctors and be admitted to hospital than other people and are also more likely to be unemployed and therefore paying less tax than the rest of the population.
The report by the Grattan Institute admits that soft drinks are not solely responsible for Australian obesity, but argues that they should be targeted as they are mostly consumed by children and have no nutritional value.
“For now, Australia should introduce this tax because it offers twin benefits: it will reduce the number of people who become obese and it will ensure fewer taxpayer dollars have to be spent on the damage done by obesity.”Dr Stephen Ducket
Taxes of this kind have been introduced successfully in other countries like Mexico and the city of California. The increase in price by 40c per 100 grams of sugar would raise the price of a can of soft drink by 15cents which will encourage more consumers to drink water.