UN health agency backs away from call to tax sugary drinks


GENEVA — The World Health Organization is backing away from its own call two years ago for taxing sugary drinks, in a new report that some experts slammed as being “conspicuously limp.”

In 2016, the U.N. health agency urged countries to tax sugar-laden drinks like sodas and sport drinks as a way to fight obesity and diabetes. Back then, it said a 20 percent price increase in such drinks would dramatically cut consumption.

But in a report published Friday, WHO experts pointedly dropped any recommendation to tax sugary beverages. WHO said that regarding sugar taxation, “some views were conflicting and could not be resolved.”

Jack Winkler, an emeritus professor of nutrition policy at London Metropolitan University, said that amid the rising obesity epidemic, WHO’s failure to recommend sugar taxation was “particularly absurd.”

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