There has been a bit of talk recently from politicians, media outlets, and health experts about the potential implementation of a sugar tax in Australia. A sugar tax would impact all Australians' lifestyles—especially their health and the rising obesity rates—but here's what it would mean for you as an Australian student.

First of all: what exactly is a sugar tax, and why would we need it?

It's exactly what it sounds like: a large tax placed specifically on sugary drinks—it would likely be around 20%. The tax could later be extended to include sugary foodstuffs. Here in Australia, our obesity rates have been rising while our life expectancy is dropping—and a sugar tax is an effort to fight that.

What could possibly be good about that?

There are actually tons of pros to this tax! The University of Queensland School of Public Health did a little research. Their model predicts an 800-person drop in cases of Type 2 Diabetes and 4,400 fewer individuals with heart disease. International studies on the sugar tax have predicted a 1.3% decrease in obesity rates. Yay for being healthier!

Okay, that's pretty awesome. So what's the catch?

Becky Hughes

Well, it really boils down to the aftermath of it all—where is the money from the tax going? If the profits from this tax aren't used wisely, those in lower socioeconomic classes (i.e. lots of students) will be hit hard.

Right now, it's cheaper to buy a bottle of soft drink than a bottle of water—this obviously causes many students to make poor health decisions. With the sugar tax, soft drink and bottled water would likely be the same (or at least similar) in price—but still both pricey.

Ideally, the money from the sugar tax would go toward subsidising healthier options, meaning it would actually be cheaper to make healthier decisions. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that that would happen. 

Should I be worried?

No need to sweat it just yet! The sugar tax is simply an idea floating around right now. However, if you like the sound of a sugar tax, sign this petition to implement it in Australia.