As Pakistan grapples with a mounting public health crisis related to excessive sugar consumption, a coalition of medical experts is calling for the implementation of a substantial 50% sales tax on sugary drinks. The move comes as scientific evidence reveals the detrimental effects of these beverages on the nation's health and well-being.
“In Pakistan, the prevalence of diabetes is around 30.8% which is the highest in the world," says DAP Secretary General Prof Abdul Basit#GeoNewshttps://t.co/hqZ224nJdP— Geo English (@geonews_english) May 17, 2023
Prominent researchers and healthcare professionals met during a consultative meeting in Karachi. They aimed to emphasize the pressing need for immediate action to curb the consumption of sugary drinks, which often contain alarmingly high levels of added sugars.
The proposed 50% sales tax aims to discourage consumers, particularly the younger population, from regularly consuming these beverages.
Numerous studies have consistently shown a strong correlation between high sugar intake and a range of health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and dental decay.
Prof. Abdul Basit, Secretary General of the Diabetic Association of Pakistan (DAP), said: “Pakistan has experienced a significant increase in diabetic rates, with more than 30% of the adult population considered overweight or obese.”
He further added, “An estimated 17 million adults in the country are currently living with diabetes, a condition closely associated with excessive sugar consumption.”
Sugary drinks pose a significant threat to the health of our nation. They offer little nutritional value but contribute significantly to weight gain and the rise of chronic diseases. Urgent measures must be taken to address this critical issue.
The proposed 50% sales tax on sugary drinks aims to deter consumption and generate revenue that can be channeled toward public health initiatives. By making these beverages less affordable, medical experts hope to encourage individuals to opt for healthier drink choices, such as water, unsweetened tea, or natural fruit juices.
However, critics argue that such a taxation measure may disproportionately affect lower-income households.
In response, the coalition suggests that the tax revenue should be allocated to fund subsidized healthy food programs and nutrition education initiatives, ensuring that all segments of society have access to affordable and nutritious alternatives.