9 April 2014

Media Statement

Soft drink tax not the answer for WA

The Australian Beverages Council has today slammed Live Lighter’s research that a soft drink tax is supported by the public in WA, offering evidence that a tax on beverages has been proven as an ineffective measure to combat obesity, time and time again.

“Analysis of a sugar tax has shown the proposal to be bad policy. The Henry Tax Review rejected the idea, and the failure of similar taxes overseas has shown such a tax does little to change consumer behaviour but has cost food and beverage manufacturing jobs,” said the Council’s CEO Geoff Parker.

“In fact new research shows a tax on soft drinks can actually lead to increased caloric (kilojoule) intake”, he said.

Non-linear effects of soda taxes on consumption and weight outcome[1], published in the US publication Health Economics casts serious doubt on the effectiveness of imposing a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to curb obesity. The study concluded that often people shift consumption to other food and beverages, and actually increase their daily caloric consumption2.

“Taxes don’t teach healthy lifestyles; if we want a healthier country, we need better education about exercise and balanced diets,” Mr Parker concluded.

The non-alcoholic beverages industry has long recognised it has a role to play, along with other stakeholders, in addressing the complex and multi-factorial issues of overweight and obesity. For close to a decade the industry has not marketed regular kilojoule products to children under 12, has reformulated products to offer low and no-sugar varieties, has voluntarily displayed kilojoule information on the front of labels and has restricted sales of regular kilojoule soft drinks in schools.



For an interview with Geoff Parker, contact: Natalie Blake 0421 868 384/ 02 9286 1246

The Australian Beverages Council is the peak body for the non-alcoholic beverages industry and represents 95% of the industry’s production volume through membership.

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040414 Media Statement_Response to Live Lighter on Soft Drink Tax (2)

[1] Fletcher, J. M., Frisvold, D. E. and Tefft, N. (2014), NON-LINEAR EFFECTS OF SODA TAXES ON CONSUMPTION AND WEIGHT OUTCOMES. Health Econ.. doi: 10.1002/hec.3045. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

2 Results for total caloric intake show that a one percentage point increase in the soft drink tax rate actually increased total caloric intake by 27.7 calories per adult per day.