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AMSA: Medical students supportive of sugar-sweetened beverage tax to address Australian obesity crisis

29 Jun 2018

Media release

Friday 29 June 2018


AMSA: Medical students supportive of sugar-sweetened beverage tax to address Australian obesity crisis

The Australian Medical Students' Association (AMSA), the peak representative body of Australia's 17,000 medical students, supports the implementation of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages as a means of reducing obesity in Australia.

An 'industry sugar pledge' was announced earlier this week by the Australian Beverages Council Limited (ABCL) and has been endorsed by the Federal Government. Major beverage companies in Australia have committed to reduce their sugar content by 20 per cent by 2025.

“AMSA does not believe this commitment is enough,” Concetta Masterson, the Coordinator of AMSA Healthy Communities, AMSA's advocacy project for the prevention of non-communicable diseases, said.  

"This pledge is deceptive. Compliance will be judged based on the average sugar content across all drinks sold by the company, including bottled water. Companies are unlikely to reduce the sugar content of their worst offenders, and could reach the 20 per cent reduction by simply increasing production of bottled water," Ms Masterson said.

“2025 is also far too late, with Australia facing a worsening obesity crisis now. Our current public health response is not good enough. We need the Federal Government to take active measures to reduce the consumption and health impacts of sugar-sweetened beverages."

AMSA joins the Australian Medical Association (AMA) in its recommendation to implement a sugar-sweetened beverage tax in Australia. This measure has proven to be effective in improving public health outcomes in other countries around the world.

Furthermore, AMSA believes that sugar-sweetened beverages should be made less available in healthcare settings to encourage the consumption of healthier alternatives. AMSA urges all other states to follow in the footsteps of New South Wales with its framework.

“These measures are not the only course of action needed, but are important first steps in improving the health of Australians. As young doctors, we will have the responsibility of managing the increasing disease burden of obesity in the future if it is not addressed right now,” Ms Masterson said.


A recent Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report revealed that Australia is in the worst third for obesity around the world. Overconsumption of sugar, particularly through sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), is a major risk factor for developing obesity. In turn, obesity is the leading cause of noncommunicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus, which account for 91 per cent of total deaths in Australia every year.


Media contact:

RJ Seastres

0423 648 688

Published: 29 Jun 2018