The Select Committee into the Obesity Epidemic has this week published a report featuring 22 recommendations to address Australia’s weight crisis. Among them, a tax on sugary drinks, mandating the Health Star Ratings, and banning junk food ads on TV until 9pm.

Despite the World Health Organization (WHO) recommending the taxing of sugary drinks, Australia has yet to follow the 30 jurisdictions world-wide which have implemented the new legislation.

The battleground for the sugar tax in Australia comprises multiple combatants, with groups such as the Cancer Council pushing for a 20 per cent levy, while food and beverage industry representatives remain steadfast in their opposition. Senators from across the political spectrum also oppose the tax.

As we’ve previously highlighted, the push for a sugar tax has been years in the making. Just last year, the Grattan Institute announced their support for a sugar tax, citing  a potential $500 million in tax revenue that would be raised each year, and a 15 per cent drop in the consumption of sugary drinks. Former Deputy Prime Minister, The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP memorably called the plan “bonkers mad”.

Also coming under scrutiny as an underperforming, already-existing feature, is the health star rating. In its current state, the health star rating is voluntary for food and beverage companies. The effectiveness of its calculations is also questionable, with high sugar products such as Milo and Nutri-Grain achieving a 4+ star rating. The Select Committee hopes to make the system mandatory by 2020, and to address inconsistencies in its calculations.

Through our broad spectrum of work, we’ve witnessed a multitude of methods designed to combat obesity in Australia. From gastric band surgery, to healthier eating with extra virgin olive oil, it’s clear a multifaceted approach is needed.

Our consensus leans favourably toward the Select Committee’s recommendations. Although considerations would need to be given to the effect of a sugar tax on lower socio-economic groups, any measure to curb the rising burden of obesity-related health issues is surely a good one.

To read the full report, head to: