Sugar tax could save 1600 lives, raise $400 million, Australian research shows

This is complete and utter rubbish founded upon unproven and improbable assumptions.  We all eat huge amounts of sugar. If sugar were bad for us we would all be dead. Instead our life expectancy continually improves. 

Robert Lustig for years demonized sugar while other medical researchers pointed out how the evidence did not support him.  So what has changed?  All that evidence has not gone away.  It's still there.

What has happened is the need some people seem to feel for sounding alarms.  They like to dramatize themselves as wiser than the herd. So when the decades-long demonization of dietary fat finally foundered on the rock of actual evidence, a new boogeyman had to be found.  And sugar was elected.

The only evidence anyone has about the badness of sugar is a few epidemiological studies, which intrinsically CANNOT identify the cause of anything and are regularly misinterpreted

A 20 per cent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages could save more than 1600 lives and raise at least $400 million a year for health initiatives, new Australian research shows.

The study, co-written by the Obesity Policy Coalition and the University of Queensland's School of Public Health, is the first of its kind to model Australian population data to assess the impact of a sugary drinks tax.

In the first 25 years of a sugary drinks tax there could be 16,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, 4400 fewer cases of heart disease and more than 1000 fewer cases of stroke, according to the study.

"This sort of study ... provides the evidence base needed to support policy decisions by government, like taxing sugary drinks," said Obesity Policy Coalition executive manager Jane Martin, who co-wrote the study.

"It's quite hard to have a policy that is likely to reduce body mass index, because it is quite hard for people to lose weight. This is a policy proposal that would support people to consume less sugary drinks, leading to reduced BMIs, reduced incidences of disease and then reduced deaths."

According to the study, a tax in Australia could lead to a 12.6 per cent reduction in consumption of sugary drinks, the largest contributors of added sugars in Australians' diets.

The biggest consumers are among males aged 19 to 30 years, consuming up to 1.5 litres per day, while the top 10 per cent of consumers drink more than one litre a day (including diet drinks). In 2015 Australians purchased around 1.1 billion litres of sugary drinks at a total cost of $2.2 billion, excluding those purchased at fast-food outlets, vending machines and convenience stores.

Ms Martin said Australia's consumption rates highlighted the money that could be raised for health initiatives.

"The tax at one end saves lives, improves quality of life, raises revenue and ultimately reduces healthcare costs."

The research findings come only weeks after the British government announced it would introduce a sugar levy on soft drinks from 2018, a move which prompted calls for the Australian government to follow suit.

Anurag Sharma is a senior research fellow at the Monash University Centre for Health Economics, whose research has outlined the potential impact a tax would have across different income groups.

He said his research showed the burden of the tax was "almost negligible".

"Low-income individuals would reduce consumption the most and they would be the most to benefit in terms of weight reduction."

In 2014, Mr Sharma and his team compared a 20 per cent flat rate sales (valoric) tax and a 20¢ a litre volumetric tax.

Their research showed the average yearly per capita tax burden on low-income households was $17.87 compared with $15.17 for high-income households for the valoric tax, and $13.80 and $10.10 for the volumetric tax.

"We found the volumetric tax to be more effective in reducing obesity, because those heavy drinkers tend to buy multipacks which can be cheaper," Mr Sharma said.


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