Renewed calls for soft drinks to be banned altogether

It’s been hotly debated for many years but now our obesity crisis has reached such a point it seems drastic
New Zealand

It’s been hotly debated for many years but now our obesity crisis has reached such a point it seems drastic changes need to be made, and fast.

According to nutrition professor Marion Nestle, Australians don’t actively advocate against soft drinks, unlike in the US.

Professor Nestle told the ABC health groups in the US lobbied the government to change policies around junk food and soft drink advertising and everyday Australians should be doing the same for their health.

“There are a few groups around but they don’t have a whole lot of support here,” Professor Nestle said.

She told 702 ABC Sydney that Australians don’t try to push the Government for changes to the junk food industry and ask questions about obesity.

“Australia is personally health conscious, not politically health conscious,” she said.

“A lot of people are concerned about being physically fit or concerned about their own health, but that’s not translated to the food environment.

“Everybody knows everybody [in Australia], so people are unwilling to take big risks because it offends people that they are close to.

“They are less willing to stand up for what they think is right”.

So how can we change obesity and health in Australia? One suggestion put forward is to ban soft drinks completely.

Over the weekend, Starts at 60 reported on Coca Cola funding bogus research in Australia, something not everyone was aware of, or if they were, they aren’t willing to do anything about.

Professor Nestle is looking at the food industry’s sponsorship of diet and health, and how beverage companies use “every other trick in the tobacco industry’s playbook” to distort the science related to soft drink consumption.

“[Soft drink companies] fund the industry that gives them the answers they are looking for, and work behind the scenes to lobby community groups,” she said.

“The tobacco industry was famous for that and the soft drinks industry are doing the same thing”.

Recent UK research found a tax on sugary drinks could prevent millions of cases of obesity over the next decade.

Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum calculated that a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks could reduce obesity rates and save health care costs.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver started a viral campaign to launch a sugar tax to cut obesity, and only now are people starting to listen.

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of cancer prevention, said: “The ripple effect of a small tax on sugary drinks is enormous. These numbers make it clear why we need to act now before obesity becomes an even greater problem.

“There are a lot of things working against us when it comes to making healthier choices. We’re all bombarded by junk food advertising of cheap foods packed with extra calories and it can be tough for parents to do what’s best for their children.

“The Government has a chance to help reduce the amount of sugar consumed by adults and children and to give future generations the best chance of a healthier life”.

We want to know your thoughts today: Should soft drinks be banned?