Taxing sugary drinks “could save lives and fight obesity”

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Shoppers having a sugary drink in a small town in Kenya’s Eastern Province. Photo: World Bank/Flore de Preneuf

Increasing the cost of sugary drinks and taxing them more could have massive health benefits for millions of people, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday.

Announcing the recommendation on World Obesity Day, the UN health agency detailed findings showing how price increases can go hand-in-hand with a drop in consumption.

Latest figures show that more than half a billion adults worldwide are obese, while well over 400 million people suffer from diabetes.

Daniel Johnson has more.

A single can of your favourite fizzy drink can contain up to 10 teaspoons of sugar.

That's far more than anyone needs in their daily diet, and the World Health Organization has labelled it "major factor in the global increase in people suffering from obesity and diabetes".

While the United States is the biggest global consumer of sugary beverages, the problem is spreading, to Latin America, China and sub-Saharan Africa.

The healthiest course of action would be to cut out sugary drinks altogether, WHO says, or at least cut down consumption to just one glass a day.

The UN health agency also wants governments to tax the drinks more heavily, as there's growing evidence that a 20 per cent increase in price leads to a 20 per cent drop in consumption.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 49″

 

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