World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion backs tax on sug­ary foods and drinks

Malta Independent - - HEALTH -

The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion has added its sup­port to coun­tries which place a “sugar tax” on soft drinks.

A new re­port from the body found that rais­ing prices by 20% or more re­sults in lower con­sump­tion and “im­proved nu­tri­tion”.

The global health group has pre­vi­ously ad­vised a a lower sugar in­take, but stopped short of back­ing tax mea­sures.

Sev­eral coun­tries, in­clud­ing Mex­ico and Hun­gary, al­ready tax added sugar prod­ucts.

The WHO said it wants to see lower con­sump­tion of “free sug­ars”, which it said will lower in­ci­dences of obe­sity, di­a­betes and tooth de­cay.

“Free sug­ars” are all the dif­fer­ent types of sugar in the diet, ex­cept for the sug­ars that are found nat­u­rally in fruit and milk.

The WHO’s nu­tri­tion di­rec­tor, Dr Francesco Branca, said “nutri­tion­ally, peo­ple don’t need any sugar in their diet”.

He rec­om­mended sugar in­take be kept be­low 10% of a per­son’s to­tal calo­rie in­take - and prefer­ably be­low 5%.

How­ever, the group said tax­a­tion or other fi­nan­cial mea­sures should only be used on items “for which health­ier al­ter­na­tives are avail­able”.

Its find­ings are based on a meet­ing of global ex­perts and a re­view of the avail­able ev­i­dence.

The re­port also found that gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies for fruit and veg­eta­bles - which lower prices can in­crease the amount peo­ple eat.

It also said that the same tax mea­sures levied against sug­ary drinks ap­pear to work with other sug­ary foods, as well as those high in sat­u­rated fats, trans fats, and salt.

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