The State Government wants Canberra to impose a tax on sugary drinks, arguing it is desperately needed to fight Australia’s obesity crisis.

Health groups insist a sugar levy on soft drinks is necessary to tackle obesity but the Federal Government has rejected the proposal to save families pain at the supermarket check-out.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook says a new tax will force manufacturers to either ditch sugar or increase prices.

In a submission to the Federal parliamentary inquiry examining the causes and consequences of the obesity epidemic, Mr Cook claims Federal resistance risks undermining States’ efforts to help prevent people becoming overweight. He calls for the development of a national obesity prevention strategy — similar to the National Tobacco Strategy — to “lay down an authoritative foundation” for improving the nation’s health.

Pointing to Canberra holding “two of the most powerful policy levers” in the fight against obesity, Mr Cook calls on the Federal Government to restrict children’s exposure to marketing of unhealthy food and drink and consider a sugar tax on beverages.

Levies are in place in 28 countries.

Mr Cook said he expected a levy would lead to less sugar content in products and a cut in consumption.

“A levy on (sugar-sweetened beverages) is likely to deliver the greatest health benefits to those groups most at risk of associated harms, such as young people and lower-income groups,” he says in the submission.

“As in the UK, revenue raised from this levy could be invested in other public health initiatives to reduce obesity, a measure which has public support in Australia.”

Backing advertising restrictions, Mr Cook said limiting children’s exposure to junk food through TV, digital media and sports sponsorship would be a “highly cost-effective intervention”.

“It is apparent that the current self-regulatory approach is not serving Australian children well,” he said.

The Australian Beverages Council, representing the nation’s biggest soft drink makers, last month vowed to slash the use of sugar by 20 per cent over the next seven years.

A spokesman for Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt denied there was a need for a “grocery tax”, saying the Government’s agreement with the beverage sector was the “largest reduction in sugar content in Australian history”.

“Mr Cook should indicate what modelling they have done, what their planned price increase would be and what impact it would have on consumption,” the spokesman said.

Coca-Cola Australia told the obesity inquiry the company had committed to a 10 per cent reduction in sugar in its products by 2020.

Its submission said product reformulation, reduced and no-sugar alternatives, smaller servings and marketing enabled people to choose better options.