Federal Government rejects renewed calls for sugar tax to curb obesity

Federal Government rejects renewed calls for sugar tax to curb obesity

The Prime Minister has rejected renewed calls for a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks - as more than 30 leading health groups join forces to combat obesity.

Thirty-four public health, academic and science-based groups have launched their "Tipping The Scales" report in Melbourne.

The eight-point plan aims to tackle obesity and includes a proposed tax on sugary drinks.

Public health researcher Professor Anna Peeters warns Australia is surging toward a regrettable international trend.

"For the first time they've released information showing that the life expectancy of children will not be as long as their parents."

Jane Martin is from the Obesity Policy Coalition, and says the alliance of health groups is recommending a range of strategies.

"Addressing availability of unhealthy food around the pricing of unhealthy foods and around the promotion of unhealthy foods."

Professor Peeters says there is one recommendation in particular the government should consider.

"Increasing the price of sugary drinks we know will decrease their sales and increase the sales of healthy alternatives like water."

But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says a sugary drinks tax is off the agenda.

"I don't think it is. I think you've got enough taxes and there are enough imposts when we go to the supermarket."

The eight-point plan also includes restricting advertising, funding education campaigns, developing national health guidelines and establishing a national health taskforce.

Dr Umber Rind runs a medical clinic in Melbourne's multicultural north, mainly treating patients from newly arrived and refugee communities.

She says diverse communities should be represented on any taskforce, as all aspects of treatment, including seemingly simple referrals to a dietician, must be given cultural consideration.

"You need to send them to dieticians that understand the backgrounds the kinds of foods they will be accessing and preparing so it has to be targeted and appropriate to their culture and what they usually eat."

The health-alliance says it's now time for the government to act on what it describes as evidence-based policies.

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