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Global Support for Sin Tax on Sugary Drinks in India

San Francisco:  Medical professionals from the US, UK, India, Brazil and Mexico have released a statement in support of a sin tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in India.

The statement can be read here and in Hindi here.

The statement, which has been mailed to key Members of Parliament and ministries in India this week, notes that a changing Indian diet is leading to an alarming increase in rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases in India.  The statement warns that India stands to reverse decades of public health gains if these trends are left unaddressed.

The statement also notes that, “While processed foods in general are a source of concern, an increasing body of new public health research shows that one set of products­sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)­pose a unique risk of increasing the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.”

India’s Chief Economic Advisor has proposed increasing sin taxes on aerated drinks containing added sugars and treating it similar to tobacco.  The proposal is expected to come up for a vote in the Indian parliament as part of the larger Goods and Services Tax Bill.

In January this year, the World Health Organization issued a strong public statement favoring SSB-taxation, and another report released last week showed that more Indian men die from diabetes than in any other country.

Many of the statement supporters have led initiatives to tax sugar sweetened beverages, including recent successful efforts in Mexico, South Africa, UK and Berkeley, as well as ongoing efforts in cities such as San Francisco, Oakland and Philadelphia in the US, as well as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

“All of the evidence we have to date suggests that taxing sugary drinks would be far more powerful and effective for protecting public health than simple education measures. Such taxes also generate funds to further support public health and combat the rising rates of chronic diseases in India,” said Dr. Sanjay Basu, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Stanford University and one of the originators of the statement.

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