Health officials from the World Health Organization are asking for a tax on sugary drinks. Dubbed the soda tax, it would be applied to soda as well as other kinds of drinks that have sugar. The WHO says that the tax would help put a stop to the rising obesity rates. Also, it could have an effect on the rates for type 2 diabetes which have been on the rise as well. The principle of taxing something to influence consumer behavior has been used on previous issues. But would it be effective in changing people’s diets? And are people ready to pay such a tax on their soft drinks?
Taxing Soda Could Curb Obesity Rates
The World Health Organization sees the tax as a weapon in the fight against obesity and type 2 diabetes. The tax could be anywhere from 20 to 50 percent. All beverages that are sweetened with sugar would have to carry the tax. So that doesn’t mean just soda. It includes sports drinks and energy drinks, fruit punch and ice tea, vitamin water and lemonade.
Dr. Douglas Bettcher is the director of the WHO’s Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases of the World Health Organization. In a statement, he said that the soda tax could help save lives in the long run.
“If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can reduce suffering and save lives.”
Said Dr. Douglas Bettcher in a statement.
The World Health Organization is the agency for public health of the United Nations. It says that it has reasons to be concerned for the health of individuals globally. According to statistics, over half a billion of the adult population of the world are obese. Globally, 15% of women and 11% of men are struggling with obesity. The figures are double compared to the same statistics in 1980.
The situation is even more drastic in the United States. Someone is obese when their body mass index is 30 or more. In the US, 38% of women and 34% of men meet that criteria. That roughly means that one in three people is obese.
The Health Risks Associated with Sugar
Obesity poses many associated health risks. For example, there is a greater risk of heart disease. That’s a problem since heart disease is currently the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Also, people who suffer from obesity have higher chances of developing certain kinds of cancer. Proportionally to the body mass index, the risk of a stroke rises. Also, type 2 diabetes is more likely to affect people with significant weight gain.
The World Health Organization is citing the rise of type 2 diabetes as the rationale behind a soda tax. Worldwide, there 442 million people living with diabetes. In 2012, the chronic disease caused 1.5 million deaths. In the United States, 76,488 Americans died from diabetes in 2014. The WHO says that the rise in type 2 diabetes rates was caused by too much sugar. Added sugars in the form of refined sugar or honey, syrups or fruit juice concentrates are in every type of processed foods or drinks.
Dr. Francesco Branca is the director of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development of the World Health Organization. He does not view sugar as a necessity.
“Nutritionally, people don’t need any sugar in their diet.”
Said Dr. Francesco Branca in a statement.
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