World Health Organization Endorses Taxes on Sugary Drinks

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WHO says such a tax would lead to “proportional reductions in consumption”
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Taxes on unhealthy foods and beverages and subsidies on fruits and vegetables may lead to even greater positive effects, according to the WHO.

The World Health Organization made its stance on sugary drink taxes clear in a report titled “Fiscal Policies for Diet and Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases.” It stated that taxes on sugary drinks would lead to “proportional reductions in consumption,” particularly in instances where retail prices increased by 20 percent or more.

In addition to making sugary drinks more expensive, reducing the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables by 10 to 30 percent would effectively increase food and vegetable consumption, Food Navigator reported.

“Greater effects on the net energy intake and weight may be accomplished by combining subsidies on fruit and vegetables and taxation of target foods and beverages,” the report said. “Vulnerable populations, including low-income consumers, are most price-responsive and, in terms of health, benefit most from changes in the relative prices of food and beverages.”

Reducing the amount of sugar that people consume is especially important given the rising rates of obesity and diabetes. According to a 2014 figure from the WHO, one in three adults worldwide are overweight. The number of people living with diabetes worldwide has increased from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.
 

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