1 year ago 0

The World Health Organization has been encouraging people to cut down on sugar, limiting added sugars to no more than 10% of our daily calorie intake.


So, how might policymakers get people to follow this advice? In a new study, the World Health Organization is advising governments around the world to tax soda and other sugary drinks.

In its broadcast, the WHO points to systematic reviews of policies aimed at improving diet and preventing lifestyle diseases, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. “The evidence was strongest and most consistent for the effectiveness of sugar-sweetened beverage taxes in the range of 20-50% in reducing consumption,” the WHO’s meta-review concludes.


Dr. Douglas Bettcher, the director of the WHO’s Department for the Prevention of No Communicable Diseases, says that “consumption of free sugars, including products like sugary drinks, is a major constributer in the global increase of people suffering from obesity and type 2 diabetes.”


“If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can reduce future suffering and ultimately save lives. They can also cut healthcare costs and increase revenues to invest in health services,” Bettcher stated in a WHO broadcast regarding the report.


The International Council of Beverages Associations, which represents soda organization and other beverage producers around the world, says it’s disappointed with the new WHO broadcast. “We strongly disagree with the committee’s recommendation to tax beverages, as it is an unproven idea that has not been shown to improve public health based on global experiences to date,” an ICBA release concludes.

As we’ve broadcasted, Philadelphia passed a tax on sugary beverages earlier this year and researchers have found a decline in sales of sugary drinks in Mexico after a tax was passed through in 2014.


Similar measures are on the ballot this year in San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., as well as in Boulder, Colo.


Last year, as we found, researchers at George Washington University and the Harvard School of Public Health released a 10-year estimate of the health impacts of a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks in Philadelphia.


“We’d expect over 12,000 cases of obesity prevented by the end of the 10-year period, as well as $65 million in health care cost savings over the 10-year period, “Michael Long, a researcher at GW, told us earlier this year. “The evidence is clear,” Long told us. “When prices go up, people buy less of things.”

In the months leading up to the vote in Philadelphia, the American Beverage Association spent over $4.2 million in media purchasing to turn public opinion against the taxation. The ABA is presently supporting a campaign to defeat the initiatives in California.


The findings of the new report published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reveal that the largest players in the soda industry, the Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo, spent millions of dollars between 2011 and 2015 lobbying against 29 different public health bills that aimed to either improve nutrition or reduce soda consumption.