The numbers behind calls for a sugar tax

The Australian Medical Association's push for a tax on sugary drinks is backed by a series of worrying statistics, which are highlighted in its latest report.


* An average 375 millilitre can of soft drink contains between eight and 12 teaspoons of sugar, or between 33 and 50 grams.

* Australians consumed an average of 70g of free sugar a day in 2019/20, with more than one quarter (18g) coming from sugar-sweetened drinks.

* On average, Australians consume an estimated more than 2.4 billion litres of sugar-sweetened drinks (enough to fill 960 Olympic swimming pools).

* More than four in 10 children and 36 per cent of adults consume sugar-sweetened drinks at least weekly, while seven per cent of children and nine per cent of adults consume them daily.

* Young males are the biggest consumers of sugary drinks in Australia.


* Australia has the seventh-highest proportion of overweight or obese people aged over 15, out of the 38 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

* Some 31 per cent of Australian adults are considered obese, while eight per cent of children are considered obese.

* Projections suggest one-third of the total population will be obese by 2025.


* Sugar-sweetened beverages are accelerating factors for dental decay, particularly in children.

* About four in 10 Australian children between five and 10 have dental caries in their baby teeth.

* One in four children between six and 14 have decay in their permanent teeth.

* Australians aged 15 and over have an average of 11.2 decayed, missing and filled teeth, with an average of 4.4 teeth missing because of dental decay and periodontal disease.


* The AMA is pushing for an excise tax of $0.40 per 100g of sugar for select sugar-sweetened drinks

* This would amount to an extra 16 cents on the price of an average 375ml can of soft drink.

* Tax could reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks by between 12 and 18 per cent, equating to up to 43,804 tonnes of sugar.

* Tax would raise annual government revenue of up to $814 annually.

Sources: AMA "Why tax sugary drinks?" report and various other health publications including the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.