Government policies that increase final retail price of sugary drinks by at least 20% would lead to proportional reduction in consumption of such products, according to a new report, Fiscal Policies for Diet and Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases, by the World Health Organisation.
“Reduced consumption of sugary drinks means lower intake of “free sugars” and calories, improved nutrition and fewer people suffering from overweight, obesity, diabetes and tooth decay,” the report said.
Free sugars refer to monosaccharides (like glucose or fructose) and disaccharides (like sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook, or consumer.
Sugar-sweetened beverages accounted for one in every 200 deaths, caused by India’s rising tide of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, IndiaSpend reported in January.
A 20% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would cut India’s excess weight and obesity prevalence 3% over a decade, and the cases of type-2 diabetes by 1.6%, at current consumption growth rates, IndiaSpend reported.
The Indian government had increased the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages 5% in July 2014, hoping to curb consumption. While tax on sugar-sweetened beverages touched approximately 18% with the last hike, sales of aerated beverages increased 10% in 2014, according to Indian Beverage Association, a lobby group, IndiaSpend reported.
“Higher tax is definitely one of the strongest interventions to reduce consumption, but it should be accompanied with robust behavioural interventions to change social norms and perceptions,” IndiaSpend quoted Manu Raj Mathur, research scientist and assistant professor, Public Health Foundation of India, an advocacy.
This article first appeared on IndiaSpend, a data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit.