The World Health Organisation's (WHO) executive board has decided not to make recommendations to member states to impose a soft drinks tax.
The decision was made during the executive board’s assessment of proposed cost effective interventions or “best buys” to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
The call by board for technical consultation before the next World Health Assembly to review studies and documentation including methodology followed by WHO, is aligned with the view of the Beverage Association of South Africa (BevSA) that a comprehensive understanding of the role of sugar in the overall diet needs to be in place, the association said in a statement.
“BevSA has repeatedly called for more in-depth research before implementation of any tax and contends that a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is not the most effective way to tackle South Africa’s growing obesity levels.
“Research of the full range of health, regulatory and economic impacts of a tax is required and should include a total dietary intake study; a detailed socio-economic impact assessment study and regulatory impact assessment,” it said.
The association reiterated its pitch in the statement that a sugar tax would harm the beverages industry and the country’s economic growth prospects, while delivering very limited health benefits.