4 Corners story: Introducing a sugar tax in Australia
23 April 2018
DAA has been contacted by ABC program 4 Corners to be involved in a story that the investigative journalism program plans to air, which will discuss introducing a ‘sugar tax’ in Australia. The journalist involved indicated there will be a focus on ‘the power of the food industry in influencing policy approaches to tackling obesity’.
DAA’s President Phil Juffs was interviewed as part of this 4 Corners story. DAA has been told the story will air on Monday 30 April.
Other recent media stories have also focussed on renewed calls to tax sugar-sweetened beverages. And this has coincided with a ‘sugar tax’ coming into effect in the United Kingdom in April 2018.
Dietitians have been calling for measures to improve the nutritional health of the Australian population for many years – and reducing the amount of discretionary or ‘junk’ foods, many of which are high in added sugar, in the Australian diet is a key part of this. So, it’s good to see this issue getting some traction.
Work needs to be done on many fronts, in a comprehensive and coordinated way, to get Australians eating a better-quality diet to help address issues such as obesity and diet-related chronic diseases.
What’s DAA position on a ‘sugar tax’?
- DAA is supportive of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages
- A ‘sugar tax’ is not enough on its own – work needs to be done on many fronts, and dietitians are part of the solution
- Australia needs a multi-faceted, long-term approach to reducing obesity and diet-related chronic diseases
- Any funding arising from a sugar tax should be invested in (multi-strategy, long-term) public health approaches to improve the health of Australians, including through nutrition, rather than consolidated revenue
- If a ‘sugar tax’ were to go ahead, this would need to be at a high rate, to make a difference in changing behaviour.
Based on the questions asked of DAA’s President during the interview with 4 Corners, the story may also discuss:
- The role of sugar in obesity
- The suitability and effectiveness of the Australian Dietary Guidelines
- DAA’s Corporate Partnerships
- The role of dietitians working within the food industry
- An issue at the Launceston General Hospital in 2013-14
- The regulation of dietetic practitioners.
It is difficult to predict how DAA and dietitians will be portrayed as part of this story. DAA presumes this will be fair, balanced, accurate and impartial, in line with the recognised standards of objective journalism and Federal Government requirements of the ABC.
DAA’s position on the key themes cover by 4 Corners in the interview with Phil Juffs:
- Obesity is a complex problem, without a ‘quick-fix’ solution.
- A person’s whole diet is important in shaping their risk of obesity.
- DAA supports the Government’s Australian Dietary Guidelines which recommend limiting discretionary (or ‘junk’) foods, including those that contain added sugar and are low in nutrition – like confectionary, cakes, biscuits, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, energy and sports drinks.
- DAA supports the Government’s Australian Dietary Guidelines.
- The 2013 Dietary Guidelines were developed by independent experts in nutrition, working with the National Health and Medical Research Council, based on the scientific evidence available at the time.
- The Dietary Guidelines are intended as a framework for healthy eating among the general population. That is, they provide population-level guidance on a healthy diet. They are not intended for sick people (including those who need specific dietary advice for a medical condition) or the frail elderly.
- For people who need specific dietary advice, such as for a medical condition, DAA recommends seeking tailored nutrition advice and support from an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
Please see information publicly available on the DAA website at: DAA Corporate Partnerships: The Facts
- Dietitians work in all areas of food and nutrition, and this includes the food industry.
- Dietitians in industry are working from within to influence the food supply for the better, such as by guiding reformulation of food products.
- Accredited Practising Dietitians working in the food industry are bound by the same professional standards as their colleagues working in other areas, such as private practice, public health and hospitals.
Additional item (added 30 April):
An interview with journalist Michael Brissenden on 30 April with ABC Radio National Breakfast, includes the statement: ‘The Dietitians Association . . . held a conference on the Future of Foods at Coca-Cola headquarters in Sydney’. DAA has never held a conference at Coca-Cola. To clarify, in mid-2017, an event was organised by and held for members of DAA’s Corporate Nutrition Interest Group (made up predominantly of dietitians who work in industry). Coca-Cola did not sponsor the event or influence the content – they provided the venue. This was a gathering of a small group of dietitians, for networking and professional development.
- As a member-based organisation, a key role for DAA is supporting our members.
- Dietitians at the Launceston General Hospital asked for support from DAA in late 2013. The dietitians felt their advice about food for patients at the hospital was being undermined by another health professional.
- DAA wrote to the hospital to offer evidence-based nutrition information and to request the hospital management provide support to the dietitians.
Additional item (added 30 April):
In an interview with ABC Radio National Breakfast (30 April) 4 Corners journalist Michael Brissenden states: ‘He (Gary Fettke) was taken to the Medical Board by the Dietitians Association, who were operating in Launceston General Hospital’. This is incorrect. DAA did not make the report on Dr Fettke to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) which resulted in his sanction. We do not know who did and we did not encourage anyone to make the report to AHPRA. In the radio interview, Michael also suggests DAA tried to stop Gary Fettke from telling his patients to cut their sugar intake. This is incorrect. Like Dr Fettke, DAA wants to see Australians reduce their intake of foods which are high in added sugar, and our members (individual dietitians) are working hard to support people to do this.
- National registration under the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has not been an option for dietitians.
- This is a decision of all state and territory governments, which most likely reflects the perceived low risk of the dietetics profession to patient safety and also that Accredited Practising Dietitians operate under similar or higher standards to those set under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme.
- DAA continues to engage with the Council of Australian Governments (the Health Ministers) about the state of registration for our profession.
- DAA is currently part of the National Alliance of Self Regulating Health Professions (NASRHP), which is made up of eight self-regulated allied health professions. Under NASRHP, DAA has been assessed and admitted to membership of a body which provides external assurance of the processes of these self-regulated professions.
DAA’s Corporate Partnership Program – member consultation
9 April 2018
We know corporate partnership is a hot topic for some of our members. As a member organisation, the DAA Board is committed to consulting with members on important issues and decisions that affect them. The Board is conducting a survey to find out more about how members feel about the DAA Corporate Partnership Program, and any changes they would like to see in this area.
A working group of DAA members have developed the survey over the last 12 months, in consultation with a second reference group of DAA members, and the Board. The survey has been independently reviewed for bias by research firm, Omnipoll, to ensure it is robust and transparent.
The consultation will be open for three weeks, from 9 April to 30 April 2018. Members have been sent a unique link to the survey by email. Responses are confidential.
The Corporate Partnership Working Group will collate member responses and provide a report to the Board for their consideration. The Board will determine the next steps, which may require further member consultation.
If you require any further information, please contact DAA via email@example.com
DAA Members please note: the copy of the survey available here is for reference purposes only. Please use the link that was emailed to you to participate in the consultation.
SURVEY NOW CLOSED