Hamilton’s health crusade as locals back national tax on sugar

CLiaison's picture March 12, 2017

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Hamilton locals are urging the rest of Australia to join their sugar crusade. Picture: Ian Currie

AARON LANGMAID, Herald Sun

March 12, 2017 7:30pm

A VICTORIAN town has turned its back on sugar and says it’s a sweet idea the rest of the nation should follow.

Locals at Hamilton have backed a community campaign for the rollout of a national tax on sugar with soft drinks stripped from the menu at hospitals in the region and a commitment from a dozen other health providers to do the same.

Supporters also want schools and sports clubs to make the change after surveys revealed spiralling health issues linked to poor diet.

A staggering 70.1 per cent of adults and half of primary school children in the Southern Grampians are estimated to tip the scales.

The GenR8 Change community movement is behind the bold campaign, which has the backing of the Western District Health Service and reinforces the push from the Grattan Institute for a 40-cent levy on every 100g of sugar.

WDHS chief executive Rohan Fitzgerald said real change was needed to address Australia’s rising levels of obesity.

“We don’t see the tax as a silver-bullet solution, but one of a range of measures researchers say will reduce sugary drink consumption and obesity across the country,” he said.

The proposed tax would mean a 15 cent price increase for a 370ml can of soft drink and would raise about $500 million a year.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver promoted the idea in Australia last year having successfully campaigned to have the tax introduced in England.

Southern Grampians Mayor Cr Mary-Ann Brown said the Federal Government could set a good example by introducing the levy.

“A sugar tax might not solve all the problems but the evidence suggests it can make a significant difference and more research and health bodies are supporting such a tax,” she said.