Media watch

Australian media headlines - November 2016

Catch up on the most topical issues in sugars and health making the headlines this month

1. Calls for a sugar tax

The talk of the month was undoubtedly focused on calls for a sugar tax by a number of leading health groups including the Australian Medical Association, Council of Presidents of Medical Colleges and Australian Health Policy Collaboration. Each of these groups released reports recommending a sugar tax as part of a wider national strategy on obesity. Creating the most noise was the release of the “A sugary drinks tax” report by non-partisan think tank, the Grattan Institute. The report provided the recommendation of, ‘an excise tax of 40 cents per 100 grams of sugar on non-alcoholic, water-based beverages that contain added sugar.’

In response to these reports there were those who came out both in support and in opposition to recommendations for a tax on sugary drinks. Those opposing the proposed tax include: Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce; Assistant Minister for Rural Health, David Gillespie; the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores; Australian Beverages Council and the Canegrowers Association. These groups all agreed that the tax is not the solution for what is a complex and multifactorial problem. To read more about the sugar tax debate click here.

2. Sales of sugar falling

Nielsen’s Global Health and Ingredient Sentiment Survey shows that 59% of Australian consumers say they actively make dietary choices to help prevent health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension. One of these dietary choices includes avoiding sugar. A Neilsen study showed that sales of white, raw, caster and brown sugar dropped by 3.5% in a single year and that 44% of Australian consumers report avoiding sugar as an ingredient. The data also showed that there has been growth in speciality sugar sales e.g. coconut and palm sugars. To find out more about the differences between these sugars please refer to our handy infographic, What type of sweetener is that?

3. Consumption of Added Sugars: Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Health Survey

New data was released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Health Survey: Consumption of Added Sugars. The results showed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders consume 75g of free sugars/day (equivalent to 18 teaspoons). The majority (87%) of free sugars were consumed from energy dense, nutrient-poor ‘discretionary’ foods and beverages.

The main sources of free sugars in the diet were:

  • Beverages including soft drinks and sports drinks, fruit juices and drinks, sugars added to beverages, alcohol and milk drinks (67%)
  • Sugar, jam, chocolate spreads and honey (6.7%)
  • Confectionery (6.1%)
  • Cakes, muffins and scones (5.5%)
  • Frozen milk products (2.8%)
  • Sweet biscuits (2.2%) and
  • Breakfast cereals, ready to eat (1.9%)

To see how these results compared with non-Indigenous Australians, see the SRAS resource, Spotlight on Australia’s Sugars Consumption.

NEXT: October headlines 

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