By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
Sugary drink taxes are bubbling up all over the globe as governments look for ways to tackle obesity and raise revenue.
France, Hungary and Mexico already tax soda and other sugar-loaded drinks and eight areas in the United States are now set to impose new levies. Last week, Britain published draft legislation to begin collecting a drink tax in 2018 based on sugar content. Ireland has proposed a similar tax beginning at around the same time.
Portugal has plans to collect taxes on soft drinks this coming year, using the money for public health programs. South Africa is set to collect in April of 2017, becoming the first African country to impose a sugary drink tax.
Colombia’s health minister has championed a tax there as a way to combat that country’s growing obesity issues. The tax is being considered in the legislature as part of a larger tax package for next year.
The Philippines, Indonesia and India all have been considering substantial taxes on sugary drinks, as well.
Late last month, a prominent Australian think tank suggested that country begin to tax 40 cents for every 100 grams of sugar for all non-alcoholic, water-based drinks that contain added sugar. It predicted the tax would increase the price of a 2-liter bottle of soft drink by about 80 cents and raise about $500 million a year.
“Obesity costs Australian taxpayers more than $5.3 billion a year,” the Grattan Institute said. “Obese people are more likely to go to doctors and be admitted to hospital more often than other people. They are also more likely to be unemployed and therefore paying less tax than the rest of the population.
“These costs – more taxpayer dollars spent on healthcare and welfare, and less tax raised – are caused by obesity but borne by the entire community. The new tax would help redress that imbalance.”
All of this movement globally comes amidst a World Health Organization report in October that encouraged governments to tax sugary drinks, saying it can lower consumption and reduce obesity, Type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. WHO said the prevalence of obesity more than doubled between 1980 and 2014, with more than half a billion adults classified as obese. That breaks down to 11 percent of men and 15 percent of women.
The report also said about 42 million children under 5 years old were overweight or obese in 2015. Almost half of them lived in Asia, and a quarter of them were in Africa.
Last year, McKinsey & Company’s Global Institute called obesity a “major global economic problem.” The management consultancy ranked obesity as the third major social challenge, after smoking and armed violence.
“It imposes significant costs on healthcare systems,” the Institute said, “around the world, 2 to 7 percent of all healthcare spending relates to measures to prevent and treat this condition, with up to 20 percent of all healthcare spending attributable to obesity, through related diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.”