WHO Recommends Soda Tax to Reduce Obesity Rates

Posted: Sep 08 in Weight Loss Blog by

who-recommends-soda-tax-to-reduce-obesity-ratesIn the heat of an election cycle when everyone is already talking about taxes, the World Health Organization released their latest idea as to how to fight obesity: more taxes. Specifically, the WHO believes that introducing a tax on sugary drinks would be a positive step towards the reduction in obesity rates, offering a disincentive towards the consumption of highly sugary juices and sodas.

The World Health Organization is suggesting to countries across the globe that the cost of sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas and juices be increased about 20 percent. They suggest that doing so would reduce sales and thereby cut consumption. After all, soda is one of the most common impulse buys. Most stores, from your grocery store to big box stores like Home Depot and Best Buy sell sodas at check out. You don’t go into Best Buy to get yourself a new TV and a soda. You go for the TV, come out with a soda because it was there. But if the price of that soda goes up about 20 percent then you might be a bit less likely to buy it.

Of course, there are other benefits that would come from the idea of implementing a small tax on beverage consumption. There is a huge market for these sugar drinks, and the reality is that a small tax of 20 percent (so about $0.05 on a dollar) isn’t going to stop people from drinking the beverages all together. The tax would however create a fund that could be directly put to use to support healthy initiatives, from government sponsored weight loss programs to diabetes support.

The World Health Organization cites evidence that taxes and subsidies do directly influence purchasing behavior. Essentially, when soda costs the same amount as water, many people will opt for the soda because it tastes better. But when you are truly thirsty and looking for something easy and cheap, seeing that water or an alternative healthy drink costs significantly less could influence buying behaviors.

While this tactic has been recommended by the WHO, it isn’t likely to get international support. In fact, a soda tax is something that several states have attempted before with only limited success. The WHO would like to see a tax of this sort in all 50 states, as well as across Asia and Europe. Whether that will happen is yet to be determined.

A tax like this might influence your purchasing behaviors surrounding sodas, but you don’t have to wait for the government to take action to start making healthier choices. When it comes to losing weight, every choice you make matters, every day. Even after having weight loss surgery it will be important to avoid sugary drinks like soda, so don’t wait for a tax to dissuade you—start making healthier choices now by avoiding the sugary drinks altogether.

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