WHO urges action to curtail consumption, health impacts of sugary drinks

Taxing sugary drinks can lower consumption and reduce obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. This was stated in a new World Health Organisation (WHO) report titled Fiscal policies for Diet and Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs).

According to the report, fiscal policies that lead to at least a 20 per cent increase in the retail price of sugary drinks would result in proportional reductions in the consumption of such products.

The reduced consumption of sugary drinks means a lower intake of free sugars and calories overall, improved nutrition and fewer people suffering from overweight, obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

Free sugars refer to monosaccharides (such as glucose or fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

Obesity on the rise
“The 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, Department for the Prevention of NCDs, WHO.

“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,” he added.

In 2014, more than one in three (39 per cent) adults worldwide aged 18 years and older were overweight. The worldwide prevalence of obesity more than doubled between 1980 and 2014, with 11 per cent of men and 15 per cent of women (more than half-a-billion adults) being classified as obese.




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