Tax sugary drinks to arrest obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, suggests WHO

Tax sugary drinks to arrest obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, suggests WHO

GENEVA (ISJ) ? World Health Organisation, WHO has sought global action to bring down consumption of sugary drinks to check the burgeoning population of obese and diabetics.

In a report titled ?Fiscal Policies for Diet and Prevention of Communicable Diseases (NCDs),? WHO has suggested taxing sugary drinks to check its consumption level.

Reduced consumption of sugary drinks means lower intake of ?free sugars? and calories overall, improved nutrition and fewer people suffering from overweight, obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, said the report

?Consumption of free sugars, including products like sugary drinks, is a major factor in the global increase of people suffering from obesity and diabetes,? says Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO?s Department for the Prevention of NCDs. ?If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can reduce suffering and save lives. They can also cut healthcare costs and increase revenues to invest in health services.?

The report suggests, fiscal policies should target foods and beverages for which healthier alternatives are available.

In 2014, more than 1 in 3 (39%) adults worldwide aged 18 years and older were overweight. Worldwide prevalence of obesity more than doubled between 1980 and 2014, with 11% of men and 15% of women (more than half a billion adults) being classified as obese.

In addition, an estimated 42 million children aged under 5 years were overweight or obese in 2015, an increase of about 11 million during the past 15 years. Almost half (48%) of these children live in Asia and 25% in Africa.

The number of people living with diabetes has also been rising, from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. The disease was directly responsible for 1.5 million deaths in 2012 alone.

?Nutritionally, people don?t need any sugar in their diet,? says Dr Francesco Branca, Director of WHO?s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development.

Several countries have taken fiscal measures to protect people from unhealthy products. These include Mexico, which has implemented an excise tax on non-alcoholic beverages with added sugar, and Hungary, which has imposed a tax on packaged products with high sugars, salt or caffeine levels.

Countries, such as the Philippines, South Africa and the UK and Northern Ireland have also announced intentions to implement taxes on sugary drinks.

Source: WHO

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