Childhood obesity rates are through the roof and the World Health Organisation is urging countries to enforce a sugar tax on sugary drinks.
Their advice on the sugar tax comes alongside more and more countries are considering fiscal measures to dissuade people from buying large quantities of sugary soft drinks. Which have been identified as a major cause of the global obesity crisis.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) a sugar tax of 20% or more lowers the amount of sales on a product. Therefore a tax of this volume would reduce the sales of sugary soft drinks. This would result in people taking in less unnecessary sugar. Meaning less risk of tooth decay and weight gain.
WHO previously published claiming that humans don’t require sugar in their diet. Its guidance says we should restrict our intake of free sugars to a maximum of 10% of our energy needs, preferably 5%. The UK government’s scientific advisory committee on nutrition and health followed up that statement with their own agreement. This led to the decision to introduce a sugar tax in the UK in 2018 on soft drinks. Other countries, including the Philippines and South Africa, are now looking at introducing similar measures. Mexico currently has a 10% sugar tax on sugary drinks. This has successfully reduced drinks consumption.
Who will it affect?
The WHO says a sugar tax has most impact on the young, those on low incomes and others who consume a lot of sugary drinks. It goes without saying that these individuals will be those who are most affected by the tax. However, the effects will be positive for their health, as it has been in countries like Mexico.
The tax isn’t the end of the new proposed measures. Further fiscal measures include; subsidising fresh fruit and vegetable prices by 10-30% and taxing food and other drinks that are high in saturated fats, trans fats, free sugars and salt.
Director of the WHO’s department for the prevention of non-communicable diseases, Dr Douglas Bettcher, has spoken out about the tax. He believes a major factor in the global increase of people suffering from obesity and diabetes is the consumption of free sugars, such as sugary drinks. He says:
“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.”
How do you feel about the sugar tax? Do you think it’s a measure too far or do you think its what the country needs? We’d love to hear what you think!