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Philippines’ sugar tax could reduce premature deaths

sugary drinks3The World Health Organization (WHO) has said the Philippines tax on sugary drinks introduced this year could prevent 24,000 premature deaths linked to diabetes, stroke and heart failure in the next two decades.

WHO’s research showed that the taxes levied this year could cut consumption and avoid nearly 6,000 deaths related to diabetes, 8,000 from stroke and more than 10,000 from heart diseases over 20 years.

“The new sugar-sweetened beverage tax may help reduce obesity-related premature deaths and improve financial well-being in the Philippines,” the researchers said.

Reuters reported that the taxes could yield healthcare savings of about $627 million and annual revenue of $813 million. In the Philippines, sugary drinks’ prices have risen as much as 13 per cent after the Southeast Asian country imposed the taxes in January. It joined 27 other countries in this move backed by WHO to help curb the rising obesity problem.

The WHO said in 2013, 31 per cent of the total 56.3 million adult Filipinos were overweight, with the proportion of overweight youth nearly doubling to 8.3 per cent from close to 5 per cent within a decade. Britain, Belgium, France, Hungary and Mexico have applied, or are about to implement, similar taxes. While Scandinavian nations have used them for years.

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