IDF supports DAP proposals for increased taxation on Sugar - Sweetened Beverages

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To help control Diabetes Mellitus in Pakistan
IDF supports DAP proposals
for increased taxation on
Sugar - Sweetened Beverages
Govt. urged to broaden the category of
SSBs to include juices, energy drinks,
flavoured milk and iced tea

KARACHI: International Diabetes Federation (IDF) which is an umbrella organization representing two hundred forty national diabetes associations in one hundred sixty eight countries and territories has extended support to the Diabetic Association of Pakistan initiative for increased taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSSBs) to reduce their consumption. This initiative has been taken by Prof. Abdul Basit, an eminent researcher and Diabetologist who is also Secretary General of Diabetic Association of Pakistan. Prof. Basit and his group at Baqai Institute of Diabetes and Endocrinology (BIDE) at Baqai Medical University has contributed a lot to the literature on diabetes conducting studies generating local data which is published in numerous reputed peer reviewed medical journals in Pakistan and overseas.

IDF and DAP both represent the growing number of people suffering from diabetes. The prevalence of diabetes in Pakistan at present is estimated to be 19.4 Million and many more are at risk of developing diabetes. Not only that even more than one third of adults in Pakistan, Prof. Basit believes are either obese or overweight, hence therefore at increased risk of diabetes and other health problems. Increased taxation on SSBs through fiscal policies can not only help reduce the consumption of good not considered good for health but also encourage people of Paksitan make healthier choices. DAP has recommended to increase the excise duty on all SSBs to 20% besides broadening the category beyond its current definitions to include juices, energy drinks, flavoured milk, iced tea and other drinks sweetened with added sugars.

The communication received from IDF which is signed by Andrew Boulton President and Dr. Akhtar Hussain President-elect states that Taxation to reduce the consumption of SSBs has proved a highly effective tool to reduce the burden of obesity and Type-2 diabetes. So far about fifty countries have introduced such measures including countries in South East Asia, IDF Middle East and North African Region which also includes India, Maldives, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Ever increasing epidemic of diabetes has become a global health emergency. It presents a significant threat to economic advancement, particularly in low and middle income countries. Consistently high blood sugar levels can lead to serious diseases affecting the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, nerves and teeth. Diabetes is known as leading cause of cardiovascular diseases, blindness, kidney failure, and lower limb amputations. People with diabetes who were infected with Covid19 Pandemic also had much greater morbidity and mortality.

This proposal for an increased taxation on SSBs is an excellent initiative to control diabetes which deserve to be supported by every segment of the society. The members of the medical profession itself should set an example by ensuring that they serve healthy food at their conferences, avoid the use of sweetened beverages and sweet dishes which can be replaced with fresh fruits. We can also promote the use of Lassi our national drink which is being extensively used and promoted in countries like Turkey and Iran as well.

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