Higher tax on sweetened beverages expected to reduce public health woes
The government expects its decision to levy higher taxes on sugary drinks from next month will help improve the health of Thai people.
The Department of Health said it expects the health of Thais to improve after the government move to raise tax on sugary beverages while also launching campaigns to educate people to reduce consumption of foods and beverages that are extremely sweet.
Department of Health director-general Panphimon Wipulakorn revealed that the number of Thais getting addicted to sweetened beverages was increasing continuously, forcing many sectors to find ways to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks.
The government decided to hike taxes on beverages with high sugar content in September 2017 and another hike takes effect on October 1 this year. She said there could be more hikes if manufacturers fail to reduce sugar content in beverages.
She said the main objectives of collecting higher taxes on sugar-based beverages were: to motivate producers and importers of beverages to adjust the production formula or to make healthy alternative products with an appropriate amount of sugar at 6 grams per 100 millilitres of beverage; to increase government revenue; to reduce consumption of sugary beverages; and, to reduce chronic non-communicable diseases and dental problems of Thai people.
According to a national survey of oral health conditions by the Bureau of Dental Public Health, the growing trend of health problems, especially the problem of overweight and obesity and chronic non-communicable diseases including dental problems, coincides with the increasing popularity of sugar-based beverages.
In 2014, some 37.5 per cent of Thais aged above 15 were overweight and suffered from obesity.
The Department of Health is also drafting a law to remove sugar from baby food products to prevent children getting addicted to sweet foods.