AMA Pre-Budget Submission 2023-24 (Chapter 4: A Health System for All)

The AMA Pre-Budget Submission 2023-24 (Chapter 4: A Health System For All) calls for a tax on sugary drinks to curb the nation’s growing obesity and chronic disease, as well as other public health initiatives across preventative health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, mental health, climate change, child health, matching medical workforce to community need, and rural health. 

Frequent consumption of sugary drinks is associated with a range of health problems, such as poor dental health and obesity — a major risk factor for chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. There is also a strong association between consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and chronic diseases, in particular type 2 diabetes and heart disease, independent of weight gain and obesity. These conditions, many of which are preventable, have a significant impact on our healthcare system and broader economy.

To help address this issue, the AMA is calling for a tax on a subset of sugar-sweetened beverages — all non-alcoholic drinks containing free sugars, excluding 100 per cent fruit juice, milk-based and cordial drinks. The focus is drinks that provide no nutritional benefit.

AMA’s Pre-Budget Submission 2023–24 outlines how a tax would have a positive impact on health outcomes and the upcoming budget. A tax of 40 cents on every 100g of sugar added to soft drinks would raise the cost of a 375 ml can of soft drink by just 16 cents, which is a small price signal that shows us that these drinks are bad for us, and that we should instead be choosing water — the free and healthy alternative. AMA modelling indicates that this tax would reduce consumption by 31 per cent by 2025–26, and is estimated to result in 16,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, 4,400 fewer cases of heart disease, and 1,100 fewer cases of stroke. 

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