Would an Australian sugar tax help fight tooth decay?

Australian Sugar Tax

It has long been debated here in Australia on whether they should introduce a tax on sugary drinks.

While previous governments have been reluctant to impose one, there have been renewed calls recently from the Australian Medical Association (AMA)to introduce and Australian Sugar Tax one “as a matter of priority”.

But would a tax actually help in reducing sugar intake, or is it just going to cost manufacturers and consumers more money?

And if it does work, what difference would it make to the nation’s dental health?

The proposed Australian Sugar Tax

The term Sugar Tax was first coined back in 1994 when it was proposed by the Rudd Centre for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale in the United States. It was the first time a tax was suggested to target sugary drinks in order to improve health.

Since then at least 27 countries have implemented a sugar tax, including the UK, Ireland and France, with dozens more considering legislation to do the same.

The idea of an Australian Sugar Tax has been suggested for years, but opposition is strong, despite the fact that sugar-sweetened drinks have been associated with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, tooth decay and bone density problems.

But the debate has been reignited again recently, with the AMA calling for a sugar tax. This is a significant development as the AMA is generally conservative when it comes to health policy and often avoids controversial debates.

In response to the AMA announcement, Green Party leader (and former Doctor) Richard Di Natale, has proposed a 20% increase to the price of sugary drinks.

No more sugar

Opposition to the Australian Sugar Tax

Both the Health Minister Greg Hunt and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition Tanya Plibersek have refused to support such a tax, respectively claiming the current laws are adequate and other strategies to promote a healthier lifestyle would be better.

The lobby group for the industry has been fighting for years to keep the sugar tax at bay. The Australian Beverages Council claim there is no evidence the tax would reduce obesity and will cost jobs and pass the price onto poorer families.

The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores has ramped up its campaign to prevent such a tax in Australia after seeing countries in Europe adopt similar laws. They described the introduction of a sugar tax in the UK as flawed and discriminatory, and that the same laws wouldn’t work here in Australia.

Why sugar is so bad for your health

Sugary drinks are not just bad for your teeth; they are bad for your overall health.

Soft drinks have absolutely zero nutritional benefits, basically just being liquid sugar. One bottle of your typical soft drink contains a staggering fourteen teaspoons of sugar, more than double the recommended daily amount.

And sports drinks are no better, despite what clever marketing campaigns tell you.

Children are told to “rehydrate” using sports and energy drinks during exercise, when in fact water does a better job.

On top of the risk of diabetes, obesity, and other health issues, sugary drinks are absolutely disastrous for your teeth. The sugars attract bacteria which eat away at your enamel, and with more sugars to “feed” them, the bacteria grow exponentially, causing more and more damage, resulting in cavities.

sugar in coke

Australia’s sugar problem

Data from the Bureau of Statistics show that Australia is in the top 10 highest soft drink-consuming countries per capita.

By the age of six half of Aussie kids have decay in their baby teeth and by the age of 12 half have decay in their adult teeth.

These statistics are terrifying, and something has to be done to halt the epidemic of tooth decay in Australian children.

Critics of the sugar tax claim it won’t help, but evidence from countries where a tax is already in effect say different.

Mexico introduced a sugar tax a couple of years ago, and after one year, sales of sugary drinks dropped by 5.5%, and 9.7% in the second year.

A study by the Journal of Nutrition found a 6.3% reduction in soft drink consumption, with the greatest reductions “among lower-income households, residents living in urban areas, and households with children.” The study also found a 16.2% increase in water purchases.

Let us help you look after your teeth

Good oral hygiene is essential for everyone, although we know it can be difficult.

Cutting out sugary drinks is a great way to start taking better care of your teeth, not to mention reducing the risk of other serious health issues.

While the government argues back and forth about the Australian Sugar Tax, take the initiative yourself and say no to soft drinks. Their addictive quality comes from your body craving their ridiculously high sugar content, and they do nothing for you other than rot your teeth and increase the risk of health issues.

If you would like a check-up on the condition of your oral health, then contact us today to make an appointment. Our friendly and experienced staff will be happy to help in any way they can.