Recent research suggests soda taxes might be an effective tool in the fight against obesity, which is now a worldwide epidemic. As multiple municipalities, cities, and countries consider this financial device as a method to decrease soda consumption and boost health, the World Health Organization weighs in with their opinion. 

By Hayley Sugg
October 12, 2016

This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) presented new data that reveals the health benefits of taxes on sugary drinks, prompting the agency to encourage countries to consider taxes as a tool to combat obesity rates. 

By raising taxes 20 percent on sugar-laden beverages like soda and juice drinks, countries could see a proportionate decrease in consumption, says WHO. Taxes on drinks that are high in calories and sugar have been a hot topic among researchers who seeking effective ways to reduce the rising numbers of obese adults and children worldwide.

“If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can reduce suffering and save lives," says Dr. Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO’s Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, in a statement. "They can also cut healthcare costs and increase revenues to invest in health services.”

Several countries have already taken a fiscal approach towards slimming down their citizens. In 2012, France introduced a tax nationwide on sugar-sweetened drinks, which decreased consumption after years of growth in the soda industry. During 2014, Mexico instated a tax increase of 10% on sugary beverages, which has resulted in a 6 percent decline of soda sales nation-wide. 

America has seen mixed results in health-related food taxes though. Attempts to pass one in New York City were met with fierce opposition, while a successfully passed tax in Berkeley, California failed to produce positive results. This June however, Philadelphia became the second major U.S. city to pass a soda tax, which will go into effect on January 1, 2017.