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Soft drink tax ‘won’t work’: pub

Saturday, 16th April, 2016

The Black Lion Inn’s bar attendant and supervisor Misty Vines stocking the soft drink fridge, which is popular at the drive-through. PICTURE: Emily Roberts The Black Lion Inn’s bar attendant and supervisor Misty Vines stocking the soft drink fridge, which is popular at the drive-through. PICTURE: Emily Roberts

A higher tax on addictive sugary drinks would provide a lot of health benefits, according to a recent study.

A 20 per cent tax would raise an estimated $400 million a year and reduce annual health expenditure by up to $29 million, the study estimated.

The British government announced in March that it would introduce a sugar levy in two years to help tackle the country’s obesity problem, prompting a call for Australia to consider such a tax.

The Manager of Health Promotion for the Far West Local Health District, Lyndal O’Leary, said reducing the consumption of sugary drinks would reduce obesity in children and adults as well as the burden of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.

“Sugar-sweetened drinks have no nutritional value and are regarded as ‘empty calories’, yet they provide a significant contribution to an excessive kilojoule intake. Taxes are known to influence people’s buying patterns.”

Drinking more sugary drinks can lead to a thirst for it, Ms O’Leary said.

“People’s taste for sugar depends on their threshold, so the more they drink, the more they want and the less satisfied they are with lower sugar drinks.

“Taste buds are renewed every few weeks so it is possible to change thresholds over time.

“Many modern energy drinks contain not only large amounts of sugar but also caffeine, which is extremely addictive and dangerous to children.” 

The UK initiative would show if a tax was effective in reducing sugar consumption, Ms O’Leary said, but drinking water instead was always better.

But the Black Lion Inn’s Leonie Luke said a tax wouldn’t deter people from buying soft drink.

“We get quite a few people come through the drive-through for soft drink,” she said. -AAP/BDT

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