CANBERRA: Australian Medical Association (AMA) has called for a tax on sugary drinks to be put in place to tackle obesity and for water to be the default beverage option with meals. In a position paper, which was released yesterday (January 7), the AMA backed a number of measures to decrease obesity including banning junk food ads which target children. Although the AMA labeled a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages “a matter of priority” in September 2017, the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, rejected the idea of a 20 percent tax as he believes that consumers already paid enough taxes on items in supermarkets. The paper also noted that flavored waters, sports drinks and fruit juices contain significant quantities of added sugars. Energy drinks also contain large quantities of caffeine and “should not be readily available to those aged under 18 years,” the AMA said.
On Sunday, the Coalition insisted it was taking the required action to tackle the challenge of obesity and would not make a deal that taxes sugary beverages. We do not support a new tax on sugar to address this issue,” a spokesman for the health minister, Greg Hunt, said. “Unlike the Labor party, we don’t believe increasing the family grocery bill at the supermarket is the answer to this challenge.” Advertising and marketing unhealthy food and drink to children should be prohibited altogether, and the loophole that allows children to be exposed to junk food and alcohol advertising during coverage of sporting events must be closed,” the president of the AMA, Michael Gannon, said in a statement on Sunday.