WHO backs tax on sugary substances

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published a report signalling its support to countries which place a ‘sugar tax’ on food substances.

In its report, WHO found that raising prices by 20 per cent or more resulted in lower consumption and ‘improved nutrition’. The global health group said it wanted to see lower consumption of free sugars, in order to reduce the incidence of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

Dr Francesco Branca, the WHO's nutrition director, said: “Nutritionally, people don't need any sugar in their diet. WHO recommends that if people do consume free sugars, they keep their intake below 10 per cent of their total energy needs, and reduce it to less than five per cent for additional health benefits. This is equivalent to less than a single serving (at least 250 ml) of commonly consumed sugary drinks per day.”

Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO’s Department for the Prevention of NCDs, commented: “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.”

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