Tax on junk food 'needed to fight obesity epidemic'

The Australian government should help tackle the country's current "obesity epidemic" by bringing in a new tax on junk food, it has been argued.

Holly Bond, a PhD candidate at the Michael Kirby Centre for Public Health and Human Rights, reported that more than 60 per cent of Australian adults are now either overweight or obese, with the condition having already overtaken smoking as the number one cause of premature death and illness.

In a paper published in the latest edition of the Medical Journal of Australia, she referred to US research which found that a ten per cent increase in the price of salty snacks could reduce an average American's body weight by up to half a kilogram per year.

"Junk foods have the same pattern of misuse and the same social costs as tobacco and alcohol," said Ms Bond.

"We propose that a tax on junk food be implemented as a tool to reduce consumption and address the obesity epidemic," she added.

However, the researcher suggested that junk food companies would protest any such tax as having an unfair impact on low and middle income families.

Consumers concerned about their financial options can decide to compare debit cards and other money products in search of better deals. Ms Bond's recommendations come after the Henry tax review emphasised the importance of tobacco taxes in reducing smoking.

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