Islamabad : In recent years, the issue of obesity has become a major health crisis in Pakistan, with a growing number of people suffering from obesity-related diseases such as heart disease,...
Islamabad : In recent years, the issue of obesity has become a major health crisis in Pakistan, with a growing number of people suffering from obesity-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The considerable volume of research suggests that sugary drinks have become among the major contributor to the growing obesity and related health problems like Type 2 diabetes in Pakistan. Average sugary drink of 500 ml contains 12 to 17 teaspoons of sugar. People who consume sugary drinks regularly have a 30 per cent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
“Since the government of Pakistan is now negotiating several measures with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to overcome economic challenges, it is important to prioritise interventions which could help cut the expenses and also generate revenue to meet the short fall,” said by Sana Ullah Ghumman, general secretary at Pakistan National Heart Association (PANHA). “Taxing sugary drinks is an evidence based intervention to reduce the health care expenditures and generating significant revenue for Pakistan. More than 80 countries around the world has already imposed taxes and impact is promising,” he added.
“The rising consumption of sugary drinks is putting serious threat to public health and economy of the country. As per International Diabetes Federation (IDF), more than 1100 people are dying daily due to diabetes and its complication in Pakistan” said by Dr. Baseer Khan Achackzai, director general Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination. “Our Ministry have proposed the Ministry of Finance to increase taxes on sugary drinks. The increased cost of sugary drinks will encourage consumers to choose healthier alternatives, such as water or unsweetened beverages. This shift towards healthier choices will help to reduce the consumption of liquid sugar and improve the overall health of the population” he added.
Keeping in view of this potential and strategic nature of the intervention, the Pakistan government should increase significant tax (FED or levy) on all type of sugary drinks including sodas, energy drinks, juices, flavored milk and iced teas etc. Any resistance from beverage industry on such taxes should be rejected in the best public interest. Finally, the IMF and government may work closely with nonprofit organisations raising their voice on this important issue. By working together, these organizations can help to create a more cohesive and coordinated approach to addressing the obesity crisis in Pakistan.