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On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its first-ever global tax manual for sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).
And the world body urged countries to introduce or increase taxes on those items to save lives.
“Taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages can be a powerful tool to promote health,” Director of Health Promotion at WHO, Dr. Ruediger Krech, noted.
Krech explained that the taxes save lives and prevent disease while advancing health equity and mobilising revenue for countries to realize universal health coverage.
Currently, at least 85 countries implement some SBB taxation.
And according to WHO, SSB, tobacco and alcohol taxes have proven to be cost-effective ways of preventing diseases, injuries, and premature mortality.
WHO also observed that SSB taxes could encourage companies to reformulate their products to reduce sugar content.
“Regular consumption of SSBs, including soft drinks, flavoured milks, energy drinks, vitamin waters, fruit juices and sweetened iced teas, is associated with an increased risk of dental cavities, type 2 diabetes, weight gain and obesity in both children and adults, heart disease, stroke and cancer,” according to a WHO release.
The release said evidence shows that implementing taxes on SSBs increases product prices and reduces demand, resulting in fewer purchases.
It disclosed that a one-time global SSB tax increase that raised prices by 50% could generate additional revenues of US$1.4 trillion over 50 years.
In this regard, WHO has called on countries to introduce or increase existing SSB taxes to raise the prices of ‘these unhealthy products’, lessen demand, and reduce consumption.
Headline photo courtesy Evieanna Santiago (Unsplash.com).