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Fat tax: Why grog holds the key to beating obesity

New and higher taxes on alcohol are the best way to battle Australia’s obesity problem, according to new research.

A report released by Deakin University today recommends taxing at a rate of 84¢ per standard drink, with a tax on sugary drinks and a ban on junk food advertising to children also among the top three ideas.

But Associate Professor Gary Sacks told Ross and John “alcohol does contribute the most to excess energy in our diet”.

“I think people aren’t that aware that a pint of beer is actually equivalent to a chocolate bar from a calorie point of view.”

Ross: Wouldn’t it be more effective to ban alcohol? A tax is effectively banning alcohol for poor people.

“You’re right,” Mr Sacks said. “It would hit poorer people the hardest, but it’s not banning it.

“We do have taxes at the moment on alcohol, and what this is about is raising taxes and the evidence shows that would reduce the alcohol consumption.”

Ross: What about the law of unintended consequences here. Don’t we need to be wary of people saying ‘I can’t afford to drink alcohol so I’m going to use cheap drugs like ice’?

“You do need to be aware of unintended consequences but I’m not sure there’s a lot of evidence that a whole lot people would make that sort of swap,” Mr Sacks said.

“We look at the evidence of what people swap alcohol for, and we found they don’t really swap the alcohol, they just drink less.”

Click PLAY for Ross and John’s full chat with Mr Sacks