Sugar is one of the highest contributing factors to the most common chronic health conditions such as Weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease in Australia today. These health conditions have become one of the major health problems in Australia. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022), about 25% of children under 18 years in 2017 and 2018 were overweight or obese in Australia. Among this population, about 17% of children were overweight, and the rest, about 8%, were obese. This implies that about 1.2 million children in Australia today are either overweight or obese. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022)also reveals that in the same period, about 67% of Australians aged above 18 years were overweight or obese. It was estimated that about 36% were overweight but not obese, while the rest, about 31%, were obese. This implies that about 12.5 million Adults in Australia today are overweight or obese. This statistical data reveals that over 13 million Australians today are overweight or obese. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2020) adds that about 5.3% of Australians above 18 years in 2017 and 2018 had type 2 diabetes. This means that about 1 million Australians today have type 2 diabetes. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2018) further reveals that about 4.8% of Australian had heart disease in 2017 and 2018. This adds about another 1.2 million Australians with a chronic health condition, heart disease. In general, today, there are about 15.9 million Australians with chronic health conditions associated with excessive sugar consumption.
Given the magnitude of this issue, the Australian government has recently introduced the sugar tax policy as one of the approaches to prevent excessive sugar consumption from contributing to the prevalence of this chronic health condition. This article explores how implementing the sugar tax will help Australia reduce the prevalence of these chronic health conditions. The paper will also try to identify how this policy can help Australia to improve Australian health and well-being in the long term.
Australia is not the first developed country to have considered using a sugar tax to regulate and control the amount of sugar consumed by the public. According to WHO (2022), other developed countries, such as the United Kingdom, among 85 other countries, have implemented this levy successfully. The UK government has used this levy to encourage soft drink companies to reform their products to lower-sugar recipes. It has also managed to reduce the rate of obesity-related and national health service expenditure that the government spends to address this health issue. The UK Institute of the Government (2022) reveals this since the law was introduced in the UK, the total amount of sugar sold has reduced significantly from 2015-2019. This has helped the UK government to reduce the amount of calories intake from sugar-sweetened soft drinks. The levy has also encouraged more people in the UK to switch to other substitute products with lower sugar levels. However, The UK Institute of Government (2022) also reveals that this approach is not an ultimate solution, although it has helped the UK reduce the amount of sugar consumed by the country’s public. Therefore, in implementing the sugar tax levy in Australia, it is essential to note that this is a valuable approach, not an Ultimate solution to this problem.
The sugar tax levy is a valuable approach that can help Australia improve its citizens’ health in various ways. With this in mind, implementing the sugar tax levy has the potential to discourage people from purchasing and consuming sugar-sweetened products such as soft drinks can help reduce the amount of sugar consumed in the country (Australian Medical Association, 2021). This can indirectly help improve the health of Australians by reducing the risk factors that contribute to different chronic health conditions. For example, the levy can help Australia to reduce overweight, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, which are chronic health issues associated with excessive consumption of sugar (Australian Medical Association, 2021). Moreover, the levy can also create an environment that challenges individuals to change their lifestyles by looking for healthier diets and beverages that have lower sugar content or no sugar sweetener added to them. It can further be a wake-up call to manufacturers to reformulate the design of their products and shift to healthier products that improve individual health.
Additionally, the sugar tax may benefit the healthcare system in Australia in several ways, such as the burden of healthcare expenditure and reducing the pressure for healthcare services. The Australian government can use this levy to collect funds that can be used in the healthcare sector to improve healthcare services and cater to some of the costs involved in providing healthcare services for chronic health conditions such as heart disease and type two diabetes (Parkes, 2022). The levy can help reduce the prevalence of chronic health issues associated with excessive sugar consumption. There can reduce the pressure on healthcare facilities for healthcare services. Overall implementing the sugar tax levy can help Australia to reduce the burden of providing health care services based on the economic and demand perspectives.
Nonetheless, Australia can experience several barriers that would hinder the implementation process from being successful. For example, during the implementation process, the government may experience opposition from businesses and companies that manufacture and process soft drinks and other consumable products that use sugar sweeteners as one of the ingredients. The levy is based on the perspective that businesses and companies that manufacture sugar-sweetened products should be taxed more. This is against the interest of these kinds of companies since it increases the cost of operation and product prices. This can be negative after an organization by reducing the number of sales and earnings. Additionally, passing police like the sugar tax levy can take a long time before the final step (Parker, 2022). This can lead to delays that cause the project to take longer to implement.
In conclusion, this study identifies that Australia has a good opportunity to successfully implement the sugar tax levy. The UK is one of the developed countries today that have successfully implemented this levy. Therefore Australia, being a developed country, is more likely to follow the same path. Nonetheless, Australia must acknowledge and address barriers such as resistance and delay that can hinder the implementation process.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2020, July 15). Diabetes, Type 2 diabetes – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/diabetes/diabetes/contents/how-many-australians-have-diabetes/type-2-diabetes
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022, July 7). Overweight and Obesity. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/overweight-and-obesity
Parkes, M. (2022). Crawford School of Public Policy TTPI Tax and Transfer Policy Institute A ROLE FOR TAXATION IN REDUCING AUSTRALIA’S SUGAR CONSUMPTION. https://taxpolicy.crawford.anu.edu.au/sites/default/files/uploads/taxstudies_crawford_anu_edu_au/2022-03/complete_policy_brief_1_2022_m_parkes.pdf
The UK Institute of the government. (2022). Sugar tax. Institute for Government. https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/article/explainer/sugar-tax#:~:text=Alongside%20its%20importance%20for%20public
WHO (2022). WHO calls on countries to tax sugar-sweetened beverages to save lives. Www.who.int. https://www.who.int/news/item/13-12-2022-who-calls-on-countries-to-tax-sugar-sweetened-beverages-to-save-lives#:~:text=The%20WHO%20manual%20highlights%20the