Can of drink pouring sugar out

Fighting obesity: one tax and one community at a time

sugar-tax-report-web-graphicAustralians are getting fatter. More than one in four adults are now classified as obese, up from one in ten in the early 1980s, and about 7 per cent of children are obese. Various interventions have been tried, but the trends are in the wrong direction. In this policy pitch, we explored what can and should be done to address obesity and its effects. Two innovative proposals were presented.

Stephen Duckett, Director of the Health program at Grattan Institute presented on Grattan’s recent proposal to introduce a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Such a tax would recover some of those obesity costs that fall on the public purse, and which would also lead to a modest decline in obesity. Professor Anna Peeters, Professor of Epidemiology and Equity in Public Health at Deakin University outlined a potential win-win strategy involving healthy food outlets in community settings.


Stephen Duckett is Director of the Health Program at Grattan Institute. He has a reputation for creativity, evidence-based innovation and reform in areas ranging from the introduction of activity-based funding for hospitals, to new systems of accountability for the safety of hospital care. An economist, he is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

Anna Peeters is Professor of Epidemiology and Equity in Public Health in the School of Health and Social Development at Deakin University. She is a public health researcher, particularly interested in the provision of information to facilitate objective and equitable choices in public health by policy makers, practitioners and the public. Anna is Past President of the Australia New Zealand Obesity Society (2011-14), and has recently been awarded the prestigious World Obesity Federation Andre Mayer Award for 2014 and a Churchill Award (2014).