Wednesday, October 12, 2016

20% sugar tax would decrease soda consumption, lead to lower obesity rates, says WHO report

Nutrition facts in a can of Coke
A 20 percent tax on sugary drinks would decrease obesity by 20 percent, says a report by the World Health Organization. The report also said reducing prices for fruits and vegetables would increase consumption of those products.

WHO officials say "drinking fewer calorific sweet drinks is the best way to curb excessive weight and prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, although fat and salt in processed foods are also at fault," Stephanie Nebehay writes for Reuters. WHO states that obesity rates "more than doubled worldwide between 1980 and 2014, with 11 percent of men and 15 percent of women classified as obese—more than 500 million people."

Michael Bloomberg, former New York mayor and a WHO ambassador for noncommunicable diseases, said in a statement: "Smart policies can help to turn the tides on this deadly epidemic, especially those aimed at reducing consumption of sugary drinks, which is fueling obesity rates."

Francesco Branca, director of WHO's nutrition and health department, said an estimated 42 million children under age 5 were overweight or obese in 2015, an increase of about 11 million over the past 15 years, Nebehay writes.

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