In a recent circular, the World Health Organization (WHO) enumerated the importance of reducing sugar consumption to no more that 10 percent daily.
Therefore, the organization has encouraged all countries of the world to place a heavy tax on soda and other sugary drinks so that people will no longer buy them as often as before.
In their report, WHO calls for a systematic review of policies aimed at improving diet and preventing lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes. They said strong evidence shows that effect taxing of sugar-sweetened beverages by 20-50% would reduce consumption.
According to Dr. Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO’s Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, ‘consumption of free sugars, including products like sugary drinks, is a major factor in the global increase of people suffering from obesity and diabetes’.
However, this does not include intrinsic sugars, which are naturally present in foods such as whole fresh fruits and vegetables.
“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.”
This report from WHO obviously didn’t sit well with the International Council of Beverages Associations, which represents soda companies and other beverage-makers around the globe. They contradicted the report quote with an ICBA release, which said:
“We strongly disagree with the committee’s recommendation to tax beverages, as it is an unproven idea that has not been shown to improve public health based on global experiences to date.”
Meanwhile, researchers documented a decline in sales of sugary drinks in countries Mexico after a tax was passed in 2014, and in 2015, researchers at George Washington University and the Harvard School of Public Health published a 10-year estimate of the health impacts of a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks in Philadelphia, USA.
The researchers further expect prevention of about 12,000 cases of obesity by the end of the 10-year period, as well as $65 million in health care cost savings over the 10-year period.
Now the question is, will Kenya ever withdraw sugary beverages from stores?