Add the World Health Organization (WHO) to the growing list of supporters and advocates who believe countries should implement a ‘sugar tax’ on soft drinks.
In a new report issued by the governing health group, they state raising prices on these sugary goods by 20% or more equates to reduced consumption, and improved nutrition. Suggesting a tax on these products is a step forward for the WHO, who’s advised people to lower their sugar intake in the past, though never pushing for tax measures.
Many countries have instilled a type of sugar tax on their products, including Mexico, Hungary, and Great Britain. South Africa will join the cohort next year, becoming the first African nation to do so.
The WHO is striving for lower consumption totals of ‘free sugars’, which in turn will deter the number of obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay problems many countries face. Free sugars are the variations of sugars you’d find in a diet, excluding natural sugars in milk and fruit.
“Nutritionally, people don’t need any sugar in their diet,” says Dr. Francesco Branca, the WHO’s nutrition director. Branca recommends sugar intake under 10% of a person’s total calorie intake, and even better still if it’s 5%.
The WHO did distinguish that taxation and any other financial revisions should only exclusive to items “for which healthier alternatives are available”.
The health group’s report also found government subsidies for produce, which lowers prices on fruits and veggies, increased people’s intake of these natural foods.
They also recommended that the same tax initiatives against sugary drinks can be applied to other sugary products, as well as foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, and salt.