Dental experts welcome call for sugar tax

sugar tax
Photo: Andrew Perris 123RF

Dental experts have welcomed the Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) call for a tax on sugary drinks to help safeguard the oral health and overall wellbeing of millions of Australians.

“Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases in Australia and worldwide and is the second most costly diet-related disease in Australia,” Australian Dental Association New South Wales (ADA NSW) president Dr Kathleen Matthews said. 

“Consuming too much sugar is one of the main factors causing tooth decay and other oral health issues.

“Almost one in two Australian adults and more than two-thirds of Australian children are consuming too much free sugar,” Dr Matthews said.

“Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) are the largest source of added sugars in the Australian diet. Drinking a can of soft drink each day will significantly increase the risk of tooth decay and dental erosion.”

ADA NSW has previously called for a tax on SSBs as part of a comprehensive program aimed at educating the public to limit their consumption of such drinks. A price increase from a 20 per cent levy could provide an additional $400m government revenue and could help fund a public education campaign informing healthier purchasing and dietary habits, especially aimed at children.

“A levy would reduce consumption of SSBs and help lead to sustained reductions in the incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers, resulting in thousands of healthy life years and millions of dollars saved in healthcare costs,” Dr Matthews said.

“ADA NSW welcomes the AMA’s proposals for a sugar tax and calls on the Federal Government to follow the example of dozens of countries across the globe and implement a sugar tax to help improve health outcomes for all Australians.”

To read ADA NSW’s position statement on a sugar tax, click here.

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