The sugar sweetened beverage tax: Health economic implications
Australia is in an obesity epidemic. Over two-thirds of all adults and over one in four children are now overweight or obese and this trend is predicted to continue. The health consequences of obesity are severe and numerous, with a known correlation to premature death and new research frequently linking obesity to further health conditions. The most common conditions linked to obesity include diabetes mellitus, osteoarthritis and cardiovascular disease alongside its risk factors, such as hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia. Both obesity and its comorbidities demand comprehensive care from the public health system. Government policy has previously focused on individual responsibility and voluntary practices, not fiscal practices such as a taxation on sugar. Examples of this individual responsibility approach include the Commonwealth Government’s “Healthy Food Partnership” and “Weighing Up: Obesity in Australia” initiatives which aimed to raise awareness about healthy food choices. These programs have been largely unsuccessful, with public health experts critical of this personal responsibility approach.