The UK Government’s decision overnight to tax soft drinks has been welcomed by Cancer Council Queensland as an initiative the Australian Government should consider.
The UK Budget measure will come into effect in April 2018 and is expected to raise about £1.5B over three years.
The levy will be based on the total sugar content with two tax bands – one for sugar content above 5g/100ml and a higher band for sugar content above 8g/100ml.
The UK Government will direct the funding to school sport programs.
Cancer Council Queensland CEO Professor Jeff Dunn AO urged health authorities and the community to work together to limit the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks.
“The UK Government has set a new benchmark in the fight against obesity,” Prof Dunn said.
“We would welcome action by Federal and State Governments to examine the range of opportunities available to arrest Australia’s burgeoning obesity crisis.”
Drinking just one can of soft drink per day can contribute to weight gain of nearly seven kilograms in a year, weighing heavy on the current obesity crisis.
“Evidence suggests that consuming one can of 340ml soft drink per day could lead to a 6.75kg weight gain in one year, if calories are not offset by exercise or a reduction in overall energy intake,” Prof Dunn said.
“About 12 per cent of adults and eight per cent of children drink soft drink daily in Queensland, with consumption much higher among males, at about 18 per cent daily, compared to 10 per cent for females.
“One 600ml bottle of a soft drink, sports drink, or energy drink contains up to 16 teaspoons of sugar and over 1000 kilojoules.
“Unfortunately not enough Queenslanders offset these calories with adequate exercise, resulting in overweight and obesity,” Prof Dunn said.
Other strategies recommended by the Cancer Council include a ban on soft drink vending machines and marketing of soft drinks to children.
“We would welcome State Government action to restrict the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages in all schools (primary and secondary) and other places frequented by children, such as activity centres and at children’s sports and events, with adequate resources to ensure effective implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
“Equally, we recommend active consideration of measures to reduce the availability of sugar-sweetened beverages in workplaces, government institutions, health care settings and other public places.
“The World Health Organisation recommends limiting sugar consumption from both food and drinks to no more than six teaspoons a day for optimum health.
“Just a couple of sips of a sugary drink could exceed that recommendation, undoing the benefits of an otherwise healthy diet.
“The average person would need to run at least 21kms a week or walk for 5.5 hours to burn off the calories in one 600ml bottle of soft drink every day.
“To offset just one 600ml drink, a person would need to run 3km.
“It’s crucial for all Queenslanders to enjoy a well-balanced diet – drink eight glasses of water each day and avoid sugar-sweetened beverages including sports drinks, soft drinks, cordial, energy drinks and iced tea.
“Regular exercise and a healthy low-sugar diet is key to maintaining health and happiness.”
Cancer Council recommends all Queenslanders drink water or unflavoured low-fat milk for optimum health.
“Read the labels and aim for six teaspoons of sugar or less for your health – that’s a total daily energy intake of 24 grams of sugar from food and drinks combined,” Prof Dunn said.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at cancerqld.org.au or 13 11 20.
For more information or interviews, please contact:
Senior Media Specialist
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5239
Mobile: 0488 015 702