WHO has officially joined the call to discourage consumption of sugary drinks and fast foods by placing a ban or higher taxation on them.

In a new report, it said taxing sugary drinks could lower consumption and reduce obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. It also found that 10–30% price reduction for fresh fruits and vegetables consumption.

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The report is titled “Fiscal policies for Diet and Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs)”. It said fiscal policies that increases the retail price of sugary drinks would result in proportional reductions in its consumption. Reduced consumption of sugary drinks means improved nutrition and fewer people suffering from overweight, obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

Free sugars refer to monosaccharides (such as glucose or fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook, or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices, and fruit juice concentrates.

Key Findings Of New WHO Reports

  • Taxation of certain foods and drinks, particularly those high in saturated fats, trans fat, free sugars and/or salt. Evidence shows that increases in the prices of such products reduces their consumption.
  • Excise taxes, such as those used on tobacco products will be more effective than sales or other taxes based on a percentage of the retail price.
  • Public support for such tax increases could be increased if the revenue they generate is earmarked for efforts to improve health systems, encourage healthier diets and increase physical activity.

Director of Prevention of NCDs, Dr. Douglas Bettcher, said: “Consumption of free sugars, including products like sugary drinks, is a major factor in the global increase of people suffering from obesity and diabetes.

“If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can reduce suffering and save lives. They can also cut healthcare costs and increase revenues to invest in health services.”

Several professional health bodies have called for reduction in the intake of sugary foods in Nigeria. They include the Diabetes Association of Nigeria (DAN), National Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism (NSEM) and the Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN).