The World Health Organization is proposing taxes on sugar-sweetened drinks to combat diabetes. Tuesday was World Obesity Day and the World Health Organization, also known as WHO, took the opportunity to announce in a report that they are backing the controversial 20% to 50% soda tax.
Researchers say it is necessary to raise the price very high for people to be turned away by the cost. The tax would target sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit punch, sweetened iced tea, vitamin waters, and lemonade. WHO’s report considers honey, syrups, and fruit juice concentrate as sugar.
According to WHO’s Department of Noncommunicable Diseases and Health Promotion coordinator, Temo Waqanivalu, in 2015, data showed there were more than 42 million children under age five overweight or obese.
Waqanivalu explained that people, who are obese, are prone to many diseases including heart attacks, breast cancer, and diabetes. Waqanivalu said:
“This is tax on sugary drinks which is really by definition all types of beverages containing free sugars and this includes soft drinks, fruit drinks, sachet mixes, cordials, energy and sports drinks, flavoured milks, breakfast drinks, even 100 percent fruit juices.”
According to the 36-page report, the soda tax would force companies to hike the price of drinks and therefore people would consume less of them and lose weight. The WHO went on to say that it will be a lengthy battle to implement the tax. The report said:
“The beverage industry will do everything it can to avoid taxes, using the same well-financed — and well recognized — scare tactics used by the tobacco industry. The industry fought proposed taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages in San Francisco and Berkeley in 2014, pouring more than $10 million into their campaign and outspending tax proponents, 18-1.
For the report, the authors gathered data from studies of food and drink taxes implemented in Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, France, Hungary, Mauritius, Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand, and the United States. Data revealed that the obesity rate is high among the lower-income people and less-educated younger populations.
The report also stated that China followed the U.S. obesity per capita. The study also indicated that to eradicate the world of this disease effectively; world leaders should work to reduce the price of fresh fruits and vegetables by 10% to 30% to encourage people to eat healthily. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a WHO ambassador for noncommunicable diseases, praised the report and the recommendations. Bloomberg said:
“The World Health Organization report released today can help these effective policies spread to more places around the world, and that will help save many lives.”
Critics are already slamming the recommendations as an infringement on freedom.