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WHO Calls for 20 Percent Tax on Sugary Drinks to Fight Obesity, Diabetes

Oct 11, 2016 10:37 AM EDT

The World Health Organization has urged countries to raise the tax on sugary drinks to combat obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

In a 36-page report on fiscal policy and diet, the UN health agency recommended a 20 percent tax on sugar-sweetened drinks. The WHO believes that lowering consumption of sodas, sports drinks, juices, etc., is an effective way to minimize obesity and diabetes cases.

The WHO reveals that between 1980 and 2014, more than 500 million people are obese, 11 percent of which are men and 15 percent are women. Meanwhile, 42 million under 5 years old are reported to be obese while 422 million adults have diabetes, Reuters reports.

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"We are now in a place where we can say there is enough evidence and we encourage countries to implement effective tax policy," said Temo Waqanivalu, coordinator at WHO's department of Noncommunicable Diseases and Health Promotion.

Specifically, the WHO wants to achieve a lower consumption on "free sugars." BBC notes that "free sugars" are those found in processed sugar, syrups, honey, juices, except for natural sugars in fruits and sweeteners.

Read: Sweet Lies: Did the Sugar Industry Pay Experts to Blame Saturated Fat for Heart Disease?

Dr. Francesco Branca says that people, in fact, don't need any sugar in their diet and recommends to keep one's sugar intake below 10 percent, preferably 5 percent, of the calories consumed that day.

"Taxation policies can be a very important tool -- just one tool among many -- but a very important tool for the reduction of sugar-sweetened beverages," Branca via Fox News.

Currently, the US tops the list of countries with the highest obesity rate while China follows suit. Meanwhile, countries such as Mexico and Hungary has already added tax on their sugar products.

"Consumption of free sugars, including products like sugary drinks, is a major factor in the global increase of people suffering from obesity and diabetes. If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can reduce suffering and save lives," Dr. Douglas Bettcher from the WHO said.

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