Alcohol and sugary beverages kill 10.6 million yearly – WHO

Alcohol and sugary beverages kill 10.6 million yearly – WHO

The World Health Organisation in a press statement on Tuesday, Dec. 5, said globally 2.6 million people die from drinking alcohol every year and over eight million from an unhealthy diet.

The WHO called for increased taxes on alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) to reduce deaths from drinking alcohol and unhealthy behaviours.

In new data released on Tuesday, WHO revealed that globally the taxes on unhealthy products, such as alcohol and SSBs, were low.

The findings highlighted that the majority of countries were not using taxes to incentivise healthier behaviours.

“Half of all countries taxing SSBs are also taxing water, which is not recommended by WHO. Although 108 countries are taxing some sort of sugar-sweetened beverage, globally, on the average excise tax, a tax designated for a specified consumer product, represents just 6.6 per cent of the price of soda.

“At least 148 countries have applied excise taxes to alcoholic beverages at the national level. However, wine is exempted from excise taxes in at least 22 countries, most of which are in the European region.

“Globally, on average, the excise tax share in the price of the most sold brand of beer is 17.2 per cent. For the most sold brand of the most sold spirits type, it is 26.5 per cent,” WHO said.

A 2017 study showed that taxes that increase alcohol prices by 50 per cent would help avert over 21 million deaths over 50 years and generate nearly $17tn in additional revenues.

This is equivalent to the total government revenue of eight of the world’s largest economies in one year.

“Taxing unhealthy products creates healthier populations. It has a positive ripple effect across society – less disease and debilitation and revenue for governments to provide public services. In the case of alcohol, taxes also help prevent violence and road traffic injuries,” said WHO Director for Health Promotion, Dr Rűdiger Krech.

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