Tax sugary drinks to fight obesity, says WHO


The UN health agency on Tuesday urged countries to start taxing sugary drinks as they fight against an obesity epidemic, pointing to evidence that price hikes can dramatically reduce consumption.

The World Health Organization’s recommendations on sweetened beverages came as the world seeks to bring down whopping obesity rates, with one in three adults overweight.

“There is reasonable and increasing evidence that appropriately designed taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages would result in proportional reductions in consumption, especially if aimed at raising the retail price by 20 percent or more,” WHO concluded in a new report.

In other words, a 20 percent price hike leads to a cut in consumption by 20 percent, while a 50 percent hike cuts consumption in half, the agency explained.

“If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can reduce suffering and save lives,” insisted Douglas Bettcher, who heads WHO’s prevention of non-communicable disease department.

WHO estimated in 2014 that 39 percent of adults globally were overweight and more than half a billion people over the age of 18 were obese.

Last year, it found that 42 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese — an increase of about 11 million in 15 years.

At the same time, the number of people living with diabetes worldwide had quadrupled since 1980, from 108 million to 422 million in 2014.

– Deadly sugars –

The disease directly caused 1.5 million deaths in 2012 — the latest available global figures — but high blood glucose levels linked to diabetes were responsible for an additional 2.2 million deaths that year, according to WHO numbers.

The report is the result of a meeting last year of fiscal experts, who were asked to pore over existing evidence and country case studies to help advise states on how to best design policies to help bring down obesity rates.

It looked at Mexico, which in early 2014 introduced a tax on sugary drinks that led to a 10 percent price hike.

By the end of that year, consumption had been slashed by six percent, the WHO said.

“Fiscal policies should target food and beverages for which healthier alternatives are available,” the report said, highlighting sugary beverages as a particular target.

“When you drink, your appetite control is not active, so you tend to overconsume calories,” Francesco Branca, head of WHO’s nutrition for health and development department, told reporters.

WHO has long said sugars should make up less than 10 percent of a person’s total daily energy intake, and now urges countries to lower the bar to five percent.

That would mean consuming no more than 25 grammes, or the equivalent of six teaspoons of sugar a day — less than the 10 teaspoons in your average can of soda.

Tuesday’s report also showed that subsidising fruit and vegetables in a bid to reduce prices by between 10 and 30 percent was equally effective in improving dietary habits.

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  1. Avatar Northover mgaa Alex October 5th, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    It is crystal clear.We have to say no to neocolonialism.MAUMAU went to war with colonialists to fight for our Rights.This time we won’t go to the forests.Our guns are our votes.Come march next year, we will reject puppets of foreigners at the ballot.

  2. Avatar Beloved King October 5th, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    This so called lawyer is an idiot because so far ICC has never blocked and can never block anybody from running for presidency. ICC has said and repeated in fact and act that the matter belongs squarely on Kenyans and their judicial system. In my view, the so called Lawyer must be a Uhuru project and as it were all projects won’t defeat justice and reasonable jurisprudence. UK doesn’t vote in kenya neither does it seat on ICC or Kenyan courts. Well we all know that most laws if not all are guns for higher and can say and vomit anything for pay. Uhuru is a billionaire and can buy some desperate Briton lawyers to say anything untrue.

    1. Avatar ali mohamed October 6th, 2012 at 10:49 pm

      This is a brilliant lawyer who knows his stuff.Nobody stopped you from being a billionaire, even today someone is becoming a billionare?

  3. Avatar KaCharlie October 5th, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Did Britain force Kenya to sign Rome treaty? Nope, we did it on our own and also our parliament said we should not be vague but go to the Hague. So what’s the issue here Mr Barrister?
    Mentioning Cuba is just a lame excuse. Times have changed and even communist China is today’s biggest capitalist nation. So that issue of East and West is a dead story and does not hold water. Whom the Brits favour in the coming election will not play any role in the Kenyan public and am sure even most Brits do not give a damm about what happens in Kenya.

    1. Avatar Oklosk Long October 5th, 2012 at 10:20 pm

      that is right but you have to know that dalili ya mvua ni mawingu..these guys needs RAILA this is a plan which they have in their mind and nobody will stop them,they need the government of raila,they dont need drug lords.[.uhuru and kibaki]….i am scared that kibaki might play games with raila again which might lead to him being overthrown…

    2. Avatar ali mohamed October 6th, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      Yes Africans were forced to join the kangaroo court and even those who refused to join it like sudan are still being forced to go there

      1. Avatar Carlos Mopis November 19th, 2012 at 8:19 am

        I could not agree more with you Ali Mohamed.

    3. Avatar kamau karanja October 7th, 2012 at 5:10 pm

      Some have eyes but they will never see, others have ears but they will never hear, the so called “common sense” is not common.

  4. Avatar ali mohamed October 6th, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    The lawyer is accurate, the UK want someone they can manage and they know UK will follow Kibaki footsteps. The government of kenyan will not buy the useless landrover which are overpriced and get
    loans at high interest rates for years with nothing to show for it. China has shown us what true partners are, we have superhighways to show.
    ICC is a kangaroo court, funded by countries such as UK and USA which are not members and which also have ensured that international criminals like Tony blair and Bush who killed 100,000 in IRAQ are not tried. Nato has also killed tens of thousand in Libya, but to ICC killing by Nato and USA and UK are acts of kindness.CC should start accepting money from druglords since there is no difference between it and any criminal enterprise.


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