Junk Food Tax Needs To Be On The Table At Tax Summit

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18th October 2010, 08:47am - Views: 663

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Date: 18 October 2010

Contact: Rebecca Cook - 0438 316 435 

Junk food tax needs to be on the table

at Tax Summit  

The Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) has called on the Federal Government to

include serious discussion of food pricing initiatives, including a junk food tax

and healthy food subsidies, at the upcoming Tax Summit. 

Calls today for a junk food tax published in the Medical Journal of Australia

support existing evidence of the effectiveness of financial incentives to

reduce consumption. 

Senior Policy Adviser for the Obesity Policy Coalition, Jane Martin, said that

as part of a comprehensive approach to obesity prevention, price is a proven

and cost-effective measure to reduce the amount of unhealthy food people

buy and eat. However, she warned that it is important to couple price

changes with subsidies for fresh food to avoid putting undue pressure on

families and individuals on lower incomes.

“It's not enough just to increase the price of junk foods, you need to cut the

price of healthy foods to make them more affordable. At the moment it is

cheaper to buy two litres of soft drink than to buy one bottle of water. We

need to create financial incentives for people to make healthier choices and

to ensure the healthy options are the cheap, affordable options.”

“There were no recommendations on food pricing in the Henry Tax Review;

however, there is good evidence around the impact of financial levers on the

consumption of tobacco and alcohol to suggest a junk food tax could have

real health benefits. 

“We call on the Federal Government to put junk food tax on the agenda at

the upcoming Tax Summit,” she said.       

Ms Martin suggested a phased approach to implementing a junk food tax-

subsidy combination.

“A phased approach to taxation could start with a tax on foods and drinks

that contribute most to overweight and obesity, such as sugary soft drinks.

This would have a significant impact on the weight and health of children and

enable evaluation of the impact of taxing unhealthy foods in Australia,” said

Ms Martin. 

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“This approach could also require that the tax collected is spent on reducing

the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables and other healthy foods for children and

families in need.”

Several countries have implemented taxes on junk food or particular items

such as soft drink.  In the US, 33 states levy taxes on soft drinks; Taiwan is

introducing a tax on junk food; and Denmark taxes some high fat and sugar



About the Obesity Policy Coalition 

The Obesity Policy Coalition is a group of leading public health agencies who are

concerned about the escalating levels of overweight and obesity, particularly in


The Obesity Policy Coalition partners include Diabetes Australia - Vic, Cancer

Council Victoria, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) and the World

Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin


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