The WHO has added its voice to the imposition of a sugar tax worldwide with hopes that it would reduce consumption and diseases such as diabetes associated with increased sugar consumption.
The World Health Organisation has called on governments worldwide to consider imposing at least a 20 percent tax on sugary drinks.
According to a report released earlier this week, the WHO found that «taxing sugary drinks can lower consumption and reduce obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay."
"…Reduced consumption of sugary drinks means lower intake of “free sugars” and calories overall, improved nutrition and fewer people suffering from overweight, obesity, diabetes and tooth decay."
According to the Ghana Diabetes Association, 2.6 million Ghanaians are living with diabetes and the number is projected to grow in the coming years especially in urban areas. Obesity has doubled worldwide since 1980 and in 2014, 41 million children are considered obese or overweight according to the WHO.
The global health body also recommends that the revenue accrued from the tax should be used to subsidise the production of fruits and vegetables and social programmes that promote healthy lifestyles among citizens.
The sugar tax will also invariably reduce the amount of money spent on health care by governments, says Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO’s Department for the prevention of noncommunicable diseases.
“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.”
In 2013, a 10 percent tax on sugary drinks was introduced in Mexico, where many adults and children were obese. South Africa and the United Kingdom are also considering imposing a sugar tax.
Critics of the proposals argue that the tax leads to job losses in the soft drinks manufacturing industries.