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Turnbull: Sugar tax not coming to Australia anytime soon

Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has said the country will not be introducing a so-called 'sugar tax' on unhealthy food products anytime soon.

While this could be said to be good news for investors in the food and drink industry down under, some are concerned that rejecting the tax will have result in an adverse impact on the nation's health, exacerbating rising obesity levels even further.

Health campaigners belonging to groups including the Obesity Policy Coalition, the Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne and Deakin University's Global Obesity Centre, have published a report entitled Tipping the Scales that shows just how much obesity costs Australia every year.

Their findings reveal that almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of Australian adults and more than one-quarter (27 per cent) of children are either overweight or obese, which cost the country $8.6 billion in both direct and indirect costs, like hospital care and absenteeism from work.

Sugar tax campaigners believe that introducing a 20 per cent levy on sugary drinks and other products that contain a high amount of sugar would help to prevent people from buying as many unhealthy products, eventually bringing obesity levels down.

However, Mr Turnbull has said that the Australian government has no plans to introduce a tax on sugar anytime soon.

The premier stated: "I think we have enough taxes and there are enough imposts on us all when we go to the supermarket and we go shopping.

"I think you are better off focusing on the health message, to get that across, so that people are more aware of what they are eating.

"Labelling is very important, [as well as] health messages through the media. What you do here is critically important, but also exercise - get up and walk."

Yet Anna Peeters, a professor at Deakin University, has warned that unless the government takes some form of action to curb people's unhealthy eating, 1.75 million Australians aged 20 and over will die from diseases associated with obesity between now and 2050.

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