Health officials mull sweet drinks tax

- Advertisement -

Health officials and representatives from an international agency will be meeting with the Cabinet today to table recommendations on the taxation of sugary beverages in order to decrease the incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
The Ministry of Health hosted a meeting on a Fiscal Policy SSB/Fiscal Policy to Reduce Childhood Obesity with representatives from multiple ministries in order to improve the understanding of how sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) adversely affect health in Antigua & Barbuda.
Antigua & Barbuda’s NCD Coordinator, Valarie Williams said that taxing drinks like sodas and sweet teas will not totally solve the ever-increasing number of people dying due to complications of obesity, hypertension and diabetes, among others.
She said the consequences of over-consuming these beverages and other unhealthy foods can be seen across the country in “the financial, physical and psychological impact”, these substances have on people.
“Look at the increase we have in diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease in Antigua & Barbuda,” she said. “There are people with amputations, chronic leg ulcers and ulcers at different parts of the body … there are persons who have gone blind.”
Williams said these complications severely affect an individual’s quality of life.
She said it is also important to note that individuals who are obese tend to have issues with self-confidence and children with the disease are often teased.
Professor at the University of Chicago, Dr Lisa Powell, said that there is evidence that taxing SSBs reduces their consumption proportionately.
“So essentially, the idea would be a tax somewhere in the region of approximately, we’re proposing roughly, 20 per cent,” she said.
Dr Powell said they are also suggesting that the tax revenue be used for supporting healthier choices such as providing “safe good tasting” water in schools, buying reusable water bottles for children, and boosting agriculture.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

- Advertisement -


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

five − one =