Plain packaging for sugary drinks




At a forum on community health held at Cairns on 30 May, unambiguous scientific evidence was presented that consumption of refined sugar by children can have ill effects on their health lasting into adulthood.

The culprits are not just sugar-laden soft drinks, but also cordials, fruit juices and junk foods generally. The human body is not by nature adapted to digesting refined sugar: in traditional life, sweets such as honey would have been a rare treat, not a daily substitute for meals.

The practitioners and experts gathered for the forum recommended that a sugar levy should be imposed on refined sugar, with the revenue directed to preventative health programs. This proposal is being considered by the Society’s Council.

The event was generously sponsored by the Australian Institute for Tropical Health and Medicine. The proposal for a sugar levy is not necessarily endorsed by the Society or the Institute.

The interest of the Royal Society of Queensland in community health dates back to its foundation in 1859. The first paper in the Transactions was on asphyxia, the second on ventilation of buildings. Other early papers covered public sanitation and the water supply for Brisbane. The scope of the Society’s activities is “science and the application of science”, fields of knowledge that are central to the challenges facing community health.

Presentations and summaries will be posted here soon.