A leading expert in diabetes screening and prevention says Australia needs to seriously consider implementing a sugar tax to tackle the epidemic.
Professor Stephen Colagiuri was the only Australian contributor to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) inaugural global report on diabetes.
According to the report, the number of people worldwide with diabetes has quadrupled since 1980, with an estimated 422 million adults living with the disease in 2014.
Globally, diabetes and higher-than-optimal blood glucose together caused 3.7 million deaths.
Professor Colagiuri said Australia was about average in the total number of people with diabetes.
“We are also regrettably average in the increasing rates of diabetes that we see in Australia,” he said.
“And we’re fairly high up on the list of countries with regard to overweight and obesity, which is a major driver of diabetes.”
Professor Colagiuri said a sugar tax was one way the Government could tackle the problem.
“A sugar tax will clearly not be the only solution to the problem, but there has never been a successful public health intervention which has not involved some form of legislation and regulation, and leaving the changes to be made on a voluntary basis simply doesn’t work,” he said.
“Whether you look at cigarette consumption, whether you look at road safety … we do need to actually try and create the environment that’s required in order to help people to make the changes that are required in order to prevent weight gain and in turn prevent the development of diabetes.”