CANBERRA: No doubt some of our nation’s parliamentarians woke up this morning to find their New Year’s resolutions didn’t make it through the night. No
matter. Here’s a suggestion that should sustain them for the full 12 months ahead: make this the year Canberra slaps a tax on sugar.
Excessive consumption of added sugar is one of the greatest preventable threats to our nation’s health. It is linked to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dental disease and even, some studies suggest, depression. It is addictive, it disproportionately impacts on the poor, and it is often hidden. Just as the negative impacts of alcohol and tobacco have been ameliorated to some degree by a regime of targeted taxation, so too should sugar be seen as a threat to our wellbeing, and treated accordingly. The Australian Beverages Council, which represents some of the country’s largest softdrink makers, believes it matters too. “The constant scrutiny and criticism of sugar-sweetened beverages remains the industry’s most pressing and serious ongoing risk,” one industry figure wrote in the council’s annual report last year.