Research says sugar tax could take a bite out of public health expenditure


Research says sugar tax could take a bite out of public health expenditureSugar tax has been an on-and-off topic in recent times but recent research from the University of Queensland maybe a good reason to bring it back in to the spotlight.

The study purports that a 20 per cent sugar tax on even just sugar-sweetened drinks would have long-last and broadly spread benefits for public health and serious savings for the public health system.

Dr Lennert Veerman from the university’s school of public health, said the research found the tax could raise around $400 million annually while reducing health outgoings by an estimated $29m per annum.

“Our modelling scoped the effects over the lifetime of adult Australians alive in 2010,” said Dr Veerman. “We found there would be 800 fewer new Type 2 diabetes cases each year once the tax was introduced.

“After 25 years, about 1600 fewer deaths would have occurred, with heart disease accounting for the largest share of this postponed mortality.”

“There would be 4400 fewer people with heart disease at that time and 1100 fewer people living with the consequences of stroke.”

“In effect, Australians would enjoy about 170,000 healthy life years that they would not have otherwise.”

Though the estimated cost of implementing a sugar tax is farilt high—$27.6m—Dr Veerman believes the reduced spend on health care would more than make up for it as those young beneficiaries of the tax grow older healther.

“The greatest effects are likely to be seen in young people, who are the highest sugary drinks consumers.”

“A sugary drinks tax is not currently on the political agenda in Australia, but this study and international experience suggest it should be considered as part of any tax reform process.”

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