Warwick health experts weigh in on sugary drink tax
FIGHTING obesity in Warwick will not be helped along by a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, after a proposal was rejected by Australian politicians this week.
But those in the health and fitness industry suggest a tax could only form part of the solution.
Warwick-based Healthy Lifestyles Australia dietician Caitlyn Henderson said it had become normal for people to prioritise soft drink over water.
"Working on the ground, I do see a lot of people that get hooked in by sugary drinks,” she said.
"People have a general idea that soft drinks are not very good for you, but there's also new products on the market like iced teas and differenced iced coffees.
"It's contributing to conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity, dental conditions as well.”
The Australian Medical Association recommended the sugary beverage tax in its statement on nutrition 2018.
But both Labor and the Coalition said they would not support such a tax, saying action was needed but not in the form of a tax.
The recommendation came one year after Warwick was dubbed the fattest city in Queensland and in the same week it was discovered Queensland is the second unhealthiest state in the nation.
Ms Henderson said a sugar tax could be a good thing to trial, but emphasis needed to be placed on education and prevention.
"It's more than just this food is bad for you, it's more of a psychological issue that come with having too much sugary drinks or too much takeaway,” she said.
"It's looking more at how this affects our lives rather than this dips into our finances.”
But action on obesity is required, Ms Henderson said, to prevent additional pressure on our already pressed healthcare system.
"If we don't get this under control it's going to flood the health system,” she said.
"There's already such a high demand for doctors and nurses, I really struggle to see how we'd cope.”
WIRAC Fitness Facilities Manager Alex Cutmore said he did support a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.
He agreed education was required for tackling obesity, saying a tax could help start the necessary conversations.
"They're a bit of a trap, a tax would highlight how bad they are for you” he said.
"I don't think it'll necessarily price people out of buying soft drink but it'll help offset the costs and it might make them think twice about why they're paying more for their drinks.”
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud said a soft drink tax would not solve Australia's obesity issue.
"Government should not dictate the diet of its citizens,” Minister Littleproud said.
"Individuals choose what they eat and drink, not the Government."Slapping an extra 40 cents on the cost of a can of soft drink will not stop people drinking soft drink, nor from buying a doughnut instead.”