The World Health Organization is backing a controversial remedy to reverse the global rise in obesity and type 2 diabetes — a 20% to 50% soda tax.
The recommended tax should not be limited to soda, the WHO said Tuesday. It should apply to all sugar-sweetened beverages, a category that includes sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit punch, sweetened iced tea, vitamin waters and lemonade.
“If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can reduce suffering and save lives,” Dr. Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO’s Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, said in a statement.
The World Health Organization, the public health agency of the United Nations, said the reasons to act were clear. More than half a billion of the world’s adults are now obese, including 11% of men and 15% of women. Those rates are more than double what they were in 1980. In the United States, 34% of men and 38% of women are obese, which is defined as having a body mass index of 30 or above.
People who are obese have an increased risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S. They also are more likely to develop certain types of cancer, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, renal cell cancer, esophageal adenocarcinoma, endometrial cancer, gallbladder cancer and thyroid cancer. The risk of stroke and type 2 diabetes also rises with BMI.
The WHO cited the steady rise of diabetes as a primary reason for a sugary drink tax. Worldwide, an estimated 442 million people live with the chronic disease, which caused 1.5 million deaths in 2012. More than 76,488 Americans died of diabetes in 2014.
Content Originally Published By: Karen Kaplan @ The LA Times