Cancer Council of Victoria, Media Release, 4 July 2024: Food for Health Alliance has welcomed the Federal Parliamentary Inquiry into Diabetes’ recommendations for the Australian Government to protect children from junk food marketing, introduce a tiered levy on sugary drinks to fast-track reformulation, and implement food labelling reforms that target added sugar.

Cancer Council of Victoria

In its report published on Wednesday night, the committee recommended:

  • Protecting children from unhealthy food marketing on tv, radio, gaming and online.
  • Introducing a levy based on sugar content in drinks to drive reformulation to reduce the amount of sugar in products.
  • Reforming food labelling to display the amount of added sugar clearly on the front of pack.

Food for Health Alliance Executive Manager, Jane Martin, said that health levy on sugary drinks will encourage manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar in their products and help to reduce Australians’ sugar consumption.

“Over 100 countries around the world, including the UK, South Africa, and Mexico, already have a health levy on sugary drinks to improve diets. It’s time for Australia to adopt this common-sense approach,” Ms Martin said.

Food for Health Alliance has long called for government regulation to protect our children from unhealthy food marketing, while national survey data[1] shows 8 in 10 (81%) of Australian adults agree that government needs to prioritise children’s health over the profits of the processed food industry.

“Our children deserve to grow up in communities that support their health. But this is impossible when the processed food industry surrounds and targets our children with their unhealthy food and drink marketing, influencing what they choose to eat, want, and ask for.”

“It’s clear that current industry-led codes are not effective. Our government must put the health of the community above the profits of the processed food industry and introduce measures to protect our children from this unhealthy food and drink advertising.”

Ms Martin said that these reforms would provide the government vital funds which could be invested into obesity prevention initiatives.

“Obesity is the most expensive risk factor for Australia’s health spending by disease, contributing to 18% of health spending on diseases attributed to modifiable risk factors – an estimated $4.3 billion. A tiered tax on sugary drinks alone is predicted to raise $500 million in the first year, recent research shows.”

With up to 42 different names for sugar, it makes it difficult to rely on the ingredient list to help guide consumers to make an informed decision, Ms Martin explained.

“Improving labelling system so that added sugar content of foods is displayed on the front-of-food pack will help support Australians to purchase healthier items at the supermarket.”

Ms Martin also said the Inquiry’s recommendations mirrored those outlined in a range of other strategies, including the National Obesity Strategy, and provide a clear plan of action for the Australian Government to prevent diet-related chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cancer.

“We urge the Australian Government to adopt this package of reforms and fund them under the National Preventive Health Strategy and the National Obesity Strategy.”

“As with other risk factors like smoking, improving diets and preventing obesity requires a comprehensive and coordinated package of reforms. When implemented together, these can significantly improve our food environment, making it easier for people to eat well and lead healthy lives.”

Learn more at You can read all the Diabetes Inquiry recommendations here.


[1] Gascoyne C, Chen YJM, Morley B. Shape of Australia 2021 Survey: Final Report. Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, October 2021. The survey was completed by 2,287 Australian adults nationally.

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