Australia could save $3.4bn with sugar tax and healthy food subsidies

Linda Cobiac, a senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne’s school of public health, led research that found that food taxes on unhealthy foods and subsidies on healthier alternatives could save Australia $3.4 billion in healthcare costs. The results were published on Wednesday in the journal Plos Medicine.

Cobiac and her team used international data from countries that already have food and beverage taxes such as Denmark, but tweaked the rate of taxation and also included a subsidy for fresh fruit and vegetables to keep the household budget around the same.

After creating a model of the impact of introducing taxes on saturated fat, salt, sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages, and a subsidy on fruits and vegetables in Australia their simulations found the combination could result in 1.2 additional years of healthy life per 100 people alive in 2010. They also found that it could net cost-saving of $3.4bn to the health sector.

“Few other public health interventions could deliver such health gains on average across the whole population,” Cobiac said.


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