Doctors call for taxes on junk food and subsidised fruit and veggies

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is calling for taxes on junk food and sugary drinks and subsidised fruit and vegetables to beat the obesity epidemic.

AMA president, Dr. Rosanna Capolingua, says obesity now affects nearly one in five Australians, and presents a significant problem with a broad impact on the community.

Dr. Capolingua, says the tax increase on 'alcopops' shows the government has the means to act swiftly to target potentially unhealthy products and foods known to be healthy, such as fruit and vegetables, should be subsidised.

Dr. Capolingua suggests the subsidies could either be provided to growers and retailers or in direct support to families in order to ensure they can afford healthier foods.

The AMA says foods known to be healthy should be subsidised in order to ensure their prices become and remain very low, particularly in remote areas.

Research indicates that just by eating an extra one serve a day of fruit and vegetables will save the health system $157 million a year in reduced heart disease alone and Dr. Capolingua believes governments should take firm action to encourage the food industry to promote healthy eating.

She says supermarket giants have a great deal of influence over consumer purchases and Australians should not have to pay more at the checkout to live healthier lives and says price specials and promotions involving lower-sugar and lower-fat foods would help.

The Health Minister, Nicola Roxon says the government has already made several commitments to tackling obesity by encouraging nutrition and health at an early age, including the Healthy Kids Check and the Healthy Habits for Life Guide.

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