HomeHealthTaxation of sugary drinks, WHO advances while Italy slows down

Taxation of sugary drinks, WHO advances while Italy slows down

On the hypothesis of the taxation of sugary drinks - which has long been adopted in various countries of the planet, with success in terms of reducing the consumption of HFSS foods (1) - the WHO advances while Italy slows down. As of routine, at the service of the great ones LOBBY.

The Italian Minister for Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies Maurizio Martina has just thwarted the attempt of his colleague for finance Pier Carlo Padoan. Who had hypothesized to increase tax revenues by introducing a tax on the consumption of sugary carbonated soft drinks.

The imposition of additional taxes on the consumption of certain foods appears frequently in the tax maneuvers of the Italian government. There are often liens on alcoholic beverages, in particular, starting with beers. (2) In addition to the periodic increases in VAT (3), which in spite of the principle of progressive taxation affect the generality of consumers, regardless of their income.

The taxation of sugary drinks and carbonated soft drinks however, it finds meaning in the need to discourage the consumption of these products. Water - tap water, or natural mineral, even carbonated - is definitely to be preferred. To avoid the intake of simple sugars which often (outside of those in need of 'glycemic refills', in the course of exhausting sports activities for example) is superfluous.

Taxation of sugary drinks, the Mexican lesson

Mexico, first in per capita consumption of 'soft drinks', (4) already applied a tax in 2014 immediately proved effective. With the result of obtaining a reduction in sales, (5) which inevitably corresponds to a greater consumption of water. It was followed by several cities in the USA - second consumer country of 'soda'- starting with Berkeley and Philadelphia. (6) Then Chile and various tropical countries, (7) lastly also Saudi Arabia. The debates are proceeding everywhere, from Russia to India, Canada and Ecuador, South Africa. Just look at the 'Coke Leak' for an overview.

A scientific study published in 'Plos Medicine' (8) indicates that the taxation of sugary drinks introduced by Mexico 'could prevent 189.300 new cases of type 2 diabetes, 20.400 strokes and heart attacks, 18.900 deaths among adults aged 35 to 94 years 'over the course of ten years. With significant savings for public health, given that 'reductions in diabetes alone could produce expected health cost savings of US $ 983 million'.

In Europe, Denmark began taxing soft drinks last century, in 1930. Nowadays, the mite on 'soft drink'was introduced in Finland and Hungary in 2011, in France the following year. Followed by the United Kingdom and Ireland (2016, effective 2018), Norway and Catalonia (2017). (9) Spain and Portugal meanwhile are discussing what to do.

WHO recommendations

The battle against obesity, overweight and related diseases - type 2 diabetescardiovascular diseasescancer - remains challenging, for a wide variety of reasons. Among these, the responsibility of Big food for the marketing thoughtless of HFSS foods e the reluctance to improve their nutritional profiles.

Some doubt that a handful of 'cents'difference in the price of a can is enough to induce the change. Still, the taxation of sugary drinks in various countries is working. And therefore - without subtracting merit from the public awareness campaigns that accompany the new taxes - it is precisely the coins that tip the balance. Increasingly considering that none of those countries has managed to impose appropriate bans on advertising aimed at minors of sugars and bubbles.

'The consumption of simple sugars, including products such as sugary drinks, is a major factor in the global growth of obesity and diabetes. Governments that tax products such as sugary drinks can reduce disease and save lives. They can also reduce health care costs and increase revenue from investing in health services. ' (Dr. Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO department for the prevention of noncommunicable diseases)

Further measures are needed

In any case, further measures are needed, in addition to the taxation of sugary drinks. First of all, it is necessary to guarantee the continuous availability of water (drinkable and / or mineral) in every context of the sale and administration of beverages. In vending machines such as sports centers, cinemas and entertainment venues, water must never be lacking. And its cost must always be lower, by law, by at least 25-30% compared to that of any other drink. It should also be considered the opportunity to introduce not only asoda tax', but also an' sugar tax'. Taking into account the need to reduce the consumption of simple sugars, which still far exceed the thresholds recommended by the WHO and contribute to the rampant epidemic of obesity and overweight.

The General Assembly of the United Nations, moreover, he proclaimed the 2016-2025 Decade of UN Action on Nutrition. (10) Which involves a global effort - by all Member States to set, monitor and implement political commitments to end all forms of malnutrition.

But in Italy, an opportunity (10) that could usefully have been framed in this context - using the proceeds of the 'soda tax'for other useful initiatives to promote balanced diets, starting with the youngest - has been lost. 'big sodas'thanks Minister Maurizio Martina. (12) À la prochaine fois...


(1) High Sugars, Fats and Sodium, cd junk food (junk food). Or 'of indulgence' (c), in the perspective of 'Big food' And 'big sodas'

(2) The taxation of alcoholic beverages in Italy also presents inexplicable peculiarities. Such as the imposition of excise duties on beer not on the basis of alcohol content but on the Plato grade, i.e. the quantity of 'dry matter' that expresses the quality of the drink. Thus penalizing Italian beer compared to those produced in other EU countries

(3) Value Added Tax

(4) The category of sugary drinks (including carbonated) includes iced tea, 'energy drink' And 'sports drink'. Fruit juices arouse less concern, due to their natural contents of fiber, vitamins and mineral salts. And their peculiar characteristics (which do not lend themselves to excessive consumption)

(5) The taxation of sugary drinks in Mexico resulted in a significant drop in their sales already in the following few months. See http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/94/4/16-020416/en/. See also published studies on BMJ ('British Medical Journal') http://www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.h6704 come on 'Health Affairshttp://m.content.healthaffairs.org/content/36/3/564

(6) Following Oakland, San Francisco and Albany (California), Boulder (Colorado), Cook County (Illinois), Seattle (Washington)

(7) Where the beautiful country does not reach, French Polynesia, Mauritius, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Nauru, Sant'Elena, Tonga (!)

(8) See http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002158

(9) Cf. http://www.iustel.com/diario_del_derecho/noticia.asp

(10) A Decade of Action on Nutrition. Regarding specifically the need to reduce sugars in drinks, see http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2016/curtail-sugary-drinks/en/

(11) As WHO's Dr. Sandro Demaio recently pointed out, widespread political action is urgent. It is necessary to attribute to sugary drinks their effective social cost, which still falls on public health (in addition to individual health). An underestimated cost, often ignored, which tends to have repercussions in the following decades. At 15 'World Congress on Public Health', Melbourne, 3-7.4.17

(12) Not so grateful will be the growing community of diabetics in Italy, which is estimated it will reach 5 million individuals by 2030

+ posts

Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

Related Articles

Latest Articles

Recent Commenti

Translate »