Call for sugar tax in Australia to reduce diabetes

File image of baklava. Source: Getty Images

The federal government has been told to consider a sugar tax as a way of addressing the growing incidence of diabetes.

A diabetes expert believes a sugar tax is one way Australia could tackle increasing rates of the disease.

A World Health Organisation report has revealed the number of people worldwide with diabetes has quadrupled since 1980, to 422 million in 2014, with Australian rates running at about the global average.

"A sugar tax will clearly not be the only solution to the problem... but there has never been a successful public health intervention which has not involved some form of legislation and regulation," Professor Stephen Colagiuri, from the University of Sydney's Boden Institute and a contributor to the report, told the ABC on Thursday.

The report also found the rates of diabetes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were among the highest in the world. 

Indigenous woman Judi Hall told SBS News she was shocked when she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

"I thought I was eating well and I thought I was doing everything well,” she said.

Ms Hall said living with diabetes affected almost every aspect of her life.

“I have to check my sugar levels, check what I eat and make sure that I eat,“ she said

“I’ve cut down the portion of my meals, I’m more conscious of the need for fresher food and less meat and more grains. My plate looks completely different now to how it used to.”

She said there needed to be more education about sugar and its link to diabetes.

“People need more education about how harmful sugar is, and I don’t think people realise it,” she said. 

“If I’ve got friends who I know aren’t eating well, and I try to encourage them because I don’t want them to end up with it. It’s an awful disease and it’s only going to get worse.

“Education is probably one of the biggest things to get out there.”

However Indigenous woman Gail Daylight, who also suffers from type 2 diabetes, told SBS she was not sure if a sugar tax would work in Australia.

She said something needs to be done to reduce the consumption of sugary food and drinks, but a tax would not necessarily stop Indigenous people from buying them anyway.

"People still smoke, and look at how much the price of smokes have gone up," Ms Daylight said.

“When your doctor tells you that you’re borderline to becoming a diabetic, be proactive.

“Start either thinking about losing weight, doing more activities, just go walking around the block.”

- with AAP

Source SBS News

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