Should Sugary Drinks Be Taxed?

Sugary drink tax linked to lower consumption, according to WHO

(RxWiki News) Taxing sugary drinks may lower consumption and, in turn, reduce obesity, type 2 diabetes and even tooth decay, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report.

This finding is based on a recent report that found that fiscal policies — such as increased taxes — that increased the retail price of sugary drinks by at least 20 percent would cause proportional reductions in sugary drink intake.

“Consumption of free sugars, including products like sugary drinks, is a major factor in the global increase of people suffering from obesity and diabetes,” said Dr. Douglas Bettcher, director of WHO’s Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, in a press release. “If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can reduce suffering and save lives. They can also cut health care costs and increase revenues to invest in health services.”

Obesity is on the rise. In fact, obesity prevalence in the world has more than doubled since 1980, according to WHO.

“Nutritionally, people don’t need any sugar in their diet. WHO recommends that if people do consume free sugars, they keep their intake below 10% of their total energy needs, and reduce it to less than 5% for additional health benefits," said Dr. Francesco Branca, director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, in a press release. “This is equivalent to less than a single serving ... of commonly consumed sugary drinks per day.”

The WHO suggests that fiscal policies should target certain drinks and foods that have healthier alternatives. Some countries have already announced they will be taxing sugary drinks. These countries include South Africa, the Philippines and the United Kingdom.

Talk to your doctor about your sugar intake and how to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet.