Junk Food Tax
In January 2018, the Australian Medical Association published a position paper outlining the need for ‘nutritional literacy’ and changes in people’s food choices. This is in response to Australia’s increasingly obese population and recent findings of Australians’ unhealthy food habits.
Junk food refers to food and beverages which are often commercially produced, low in nutrients and high in sugar, salt, fat, and/or kilojoules. The WA Department of Health reported that 30% of Australian adults’ daily intake derives from junk food, along with 41% for Australian children.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2014-15), an alarming 11.2 million Australians (63.4%) are clinically obese or overweight. Other health problems, including hypertension (11.3%), high cholesterol 7.1%), and diabetes (5.1%) exacerbate Australia’s obesity problem.
A number of organisations, including the Obesity Policy Coalition and the Cancer Council, have campaigned for a 20% tax on sugary drinks. This proposal was rejected by the Turnbull Government in 2017
Should junk food be taxed to
combat obesity in Australia?
The Huffington Post, ‘Shocking statistics that illustrate Australia’s obesity problem’
The Huffington Post, ‘Junk food tax would save Australia $3bn, boost life expectancy’
The Conversation, ‘Why the government should tax unhealthy foods and subsidise nutritious ones’
The Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Taxing sugary drinks will save lives and cut obesity’
CHOICE Australia, ‘Australian supermarkets fail health test, study finds’
The Economist, ‘Taxing fat and subsidising healthy eating widens inequality’
Institute of Public Affairs, ‘Sugar tax leaves a bitter taste’
Cato Unbound, ‘The slippery slope of food regulations’