World Health Organization: Soda taxes are important policy tools for health

Consumers Deserve Truth on Sugary Drinks Despite Appeals Court Ruling

Statement of CSPI President Michael F. Jacobson

With critical votes on soda taxes coming on the November ballots in a number of U.S. cities, the World Health Organization has issued an important report reviewing the evidence for the need of such measures.

The WHO report found “reasonable and increasing evidence that appropriately designed taxes on sugar sweetened beverages would result in proportional reductions in consumption…” The review also found “strong evidence that subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables that reduce prices by 10 to 30 percent are effective in increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.”

In addition to reducing consumption, the WHO review noted that soda taxes can also provide incentives to industry to produce healthier products, as well as providing funds for programs that address the chronic-disease burden caused by the excessive consumption of sugar drinks. “As such, the use of fiscal policies should be considered a key component of a comprehensive strategy for the promotion of healthy diet and the prevention and control of NCDs (non-communicable diseases),” said the report, continuing: “Oppositional arguments against taxes are usually either false or greatly overstated.”

Voters should especially keep that caution in mind as they see Big Soda’s tidal wave of misleading advertising, calling the proposed soda taxes “grocery taxes.”

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Note: Jacobson was a participant of the 2015 technical meeting that advised the WHO.