Australian Dental Association joins call for immediate tax on sugar to improve health of Aussies

The Federal Australian Dental Association has congratulated the Australian Medical Association in calling for an immediate tax on sugar as one of its pillars to improve the nation's overall health.

SWEET: Dentists call for tax on sugar.

SWEET: Dentists call for tax on sugar.

ADA president Mark Hutton called on the government to introduce a tax on sugary foods and drinks.

He said his 17,000 members had seen the results of high sugar diets on the oral health of Australians every daily for years.

In a speech to the National Press Club last week the AMA president backed the introduction of a sugar tax as part of the strategy to fight chronic diseases, like obesity and tooth decay.

Australia is already lagging behind 45 other countries which have implemented such a tax, with successful results including reductions in obesity, Type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases such as tooth decay.

A sugar tax of soft drinks has so far been sidelined in Australia by a voluntary pledge from the soft drinks industry to reduce sugar by 20 per cent over a decade.

ADA surveys show that 47 per cent of Australian adults consume much more than the recommended amount of six teaspoons per day.

Many are not aware that a 250ml container of soft drink contains on average 10 teaspoons of sugar.

"The best option is for drinks manufacturers to wear the extra cost imposed by a government-mandated sugar tax, and the suggestion that the tax is based on the sugar content of the drink is a good one," Dr Hutton said.

"Whether that cost then gets passed on to the consumer would depend on the manufacturer.

"If for consumers, drinking sugary soft drinks is disincentivised by making them more expensive, it will go some way to reducing sugar consumption and its disastrous knock-on effect for oral health and whole of body health."

The ADA has suggested over the years that a sugar tax be used to contribute to the funding of its Australian Dental Health Plan.

"Given that the Aged Care Royal Commission has recommended that the ADHP be used as a model for treating older Australians, it would be great to see the revenue from the tax used to provide dental care for this vulnerable group.

"The Australian Dental Association cannot see any real roadblocks to this being embraced and acted upon by the Commonwealth Government."

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