Will sugar tax policy as in Mexico help curb diabetes in India?

Citing Mexico, the IMA said that the South American nation saw a drastic reduction in sugar consumption after it introduced tax on sugary drinks in 2014. 

Last Updated: Jan 10, 2016, 18:51 PM IST
Will sugar tax policy as in Mexico help curb diabetes in India?

New Delhi: The Indian Medical Association (IMA) says it is possible provided the government implements a “sugar taxation policy”, like the one in Mexico.

The need of the hour, it says is to cut consumption of high trans fat and sugar-laden products. India is reportedly home to some 60 million diabetic patients.

Citing Mexico, the IMA said that the South American nation saw a reduction in sugar consumption after it introduced tax on sugary drinks in 2014.

Quoting a British report, it said further that a six percent decline in purchase of sugary beverages was reported within a year.

“This led to a 12 percent decline in the final month of the year, mostly amongst lower income strata. Chile, Barbados, and France have also implemented sugar beverage taxes with the UK now considering it, and Mexico has further imposed taxes on other sugar-laden junk foods,” PTI quoted Dr KK Aggarwal, Secretary General of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), as saying.

“With India being the diabetes capital of the world there is an immediate need to reduce the consumption of high trans-fat and sugar laden products. The first and foremost step is to raise awareness about the increasing burden of lifestyle diseases in our country and the ways in which they can be prevented.

“In the long run it is important for the administration to consider following taxation laws similar to that in Mexico,” he said.

“Given the diversity of our country, it would be recommended to take Mexico’s policy on sweetened beverages as a benchmark and customize it to suit the Indian needs,” Dr Aggarwal added.

IMA National President SS Agarwal said that while Delhi has followed Mexico City’s footsteps in curbing vehicle circulation to reduce pollution, the government must work on the overall regulation of vice, starting with curbing what is in its control to stem lifestyle disease such as diabetes, currently at epidemic proportions.

Like India, prevalence of diabetes in Mexico is amongst the highest in the world, with around 70 per cent of adults being overweight or obese. Clearly regulation of vices such as cigarettes through increased costs have led to intended benefits world over of lower consumption as well.

A new report in The Lancet has estimated that reducing sugar content in sugar sweetened drinks by 40 per cent over five years could prevent half a million people from becoming overweight and a million people from becoming obese.