Singapore's war on sugar: What other countries are doing

Malaysia: Asia’s fattest nation needs to do more than tax sugar

In a bid to curb obesity in Malaysia, the government has opted for a sugar tax to be implemented in April this year.

With nearly half of its population obese, Malaysia is known as Asia’s fattest country. The Pakatan Harapan administration believes that taxing soft drinks and juices with high sugar content would help ease the problem.


Philippines: Sales down; savings in healthcare a possibility

The Philippines levied taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages on Jan 1 last year, as part of a broader tax reform package and to help avert more than 24,000 premature deaths linked to diseases such as diabetes, stroke and heart failure over 20 years.

A tax of 6 pesos (S$0.16) a litre was slapped on drinks using sugar and other sweeteners, and 12 pesos a litre on high-fructose corn syrup.


Thailand: Consumption plunges after sugar tax imposed

The average Thai person consumed about 26 teaspoons of sugar every day, health officials revealed in 2015. While the sugar is found in snacks and everyday foods such as noodles, most of it is consumed through pre-packed beverages.

Concerned about the healthcare costs from obesity, diabetes and heart disease, the government introduced a sugar tax to nudge drink-makers to reduce the sweetness of their products.


India: ‘Sin tax’ does nothing to quench thirst for sugary drinks

Often dubbed the “diabetes capital of the world”, India announced its intent to reduce the intake of sugary drinks by placing them in the highest goods and services tax bracket of 28 per cent in July, 2017.

In addition, sweetened aerated water and flavoured water were slapped with a 12 per cent “compensation cess”, or sin tax, a category reserved primarily for harmful products such as tobacco.


United States: Hits, misses and fightback by businesses

Eight cities across the US have imposed taxes of between one US cent and three US cents (between S$0.02 and S$0.04) an ounce (30ml) on sugary drinks, the largest source of added sugar in Americans’ diets, since 2014.

While some of these soda taxes have been successful, others face a backlash from local grocers and consumers, with Cook County in Illinois repealing its tax just two months after it came into effect.


Britain: Consumers not sold on obesity-risk message

Britain’s sugar tax was implemented last April in a bid to tackle childhood obesity and encourage soft drink producers to reformulate their products or reduce portion sizes.

As to how manufacturers responded, HM Revenue & Customs – Britain’s tax, payments and Customs authority – says that between the announcement of the tax in 2016 and its implementation two years later, more than 50 per cent of drinks by volume had enough sugar removed to no longer be affected by the levy.


Other parts of Europe

In France, a soda tax on sugary drinks, which include those made with artificial sweeteners, was introduced with the aim of promoting healthy lifestyles in children and to avoid risks of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

In Norway, sugar tax is payable on both imported and domestically produced sugar. All sweets, chocolate, chewing gum and items such as biscuits are also taxed. A non-alcoholic beverage tax extends to all sweetened drinks including ones with artificial sweeteners. The sugar tax was designed to raise revenue from little luxuries – it was not aimed at improving health.


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