A 20 per cent tax on soft drinks will not stop infants from becoming overweight, Deputy Leader of the Nationals and Minister for Rural Health and Sport, Bridget McKenzie, and Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, said today.
The proposal for such a tax has been put forward by the Centre for research excellence in the early prevention of Obesity in childhood (CRE-EPOCH).
Ms McKenzie said while Australia clearly has an obesity problem, Australians have continued to gain weight while our sugar intake decreased over the past decade.
“Clearly laying the blame for obesity solely on sugar is not a rational solution to the problem,” Ms McKenzie said.
“Nor is it the government’s business to decide what people should eat and drink.
“We know a sugar tax won’t address obesity, because other countries have tried it.
“If we are to stem the obesity tide, Australians need to get more active, more often, eat healthy foods in modest proportions and make appropriate lifestyle choices.
“The real way to tackle obesity is through education and tangible preventative programs. It’s about working together and supporting one another on a journey toward a healthier Australia – not a counterproductive tax at the checkout counter.”
Mr Littleproud encouraged personal responsibility saying it wasn’t governments that decided what food went into children’s mouths - parents do.
“If a child aged between one and five is overweight, the reason is not lack of tax on soft drinks,” Mr Littleproud said.
“We need to take personal responsibility here. Government can’t wave a magic wand and fix everything. Individuals need to take responsibility for their choices and that includes parents.
“Let’s not hurt our cane growers, who are already hurting due to low prices, with a government intervention which won’t help solve the problem.”