Doctors press for ‘sin tax’ on sugar-sweetened beverages


To discourage consumption of aerated drinks that have high sugar content

Doctors and medical professionals from the US, UK, India, Brazil and Mexico have urged the Government to implement the ‘sin tax’ on beverages sweetened with sugar.

Health concerns

The statement, sent to Members of Parliament and Ministries, said the dramatic change in diet had resulted in a massive increase in heath concerns, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

The medical professionals urged Parliamentarians to implement the tax, as proposed by the Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian in December 2015, under the Goods and Services Tax, to discourage consumption of aerated drinks that have high sugar content. “While processed foods in general are a source of concern, an increasing body of new public health research shows that one set of products – sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) – pose a unique risk of increasing the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” said a statement adding that this could hit the already stressed healthcare system in the country.

Mexican strategy

“India would follow the successful taxation strategies enforced in Mexico and parts of the US, which have significantly lowered SSB consumption. Mexico introduced a soda tax in January 2014 and saw a 12 per cent drop in SSB sales by December 2014. A 2014 Stanford University study concluded that a 20 per cent tax on SSBs in India would avert 11.2 million cases of overweight/obesity and 4 lakh cases of type 2 diabetes between 2014 and 2023. The tax would also substantially increase revenue available to the government to support other public health measures,” said the statement.

Among those who endorsed it are professionals such as Sanjay Basu, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Stanford University, Arun Gupta, Senior Pediatrician and Regional Coordinator, International Baby Food Action Network, Asia, New Delhi, Aseem Malhotra, cardiologist advisor to the UK’s National Obesity Forum, Anoop Misra, Chairman, Fortis-C-DOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, K Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India.


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