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.

SUGAR CONSUMPTION:

* 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.

OBESITY CRISIS:

* 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.

ORAL HEALTH ISSUES:

* 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.

SUGAR TAX:

* 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.