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The World Health Organisation has called on governments to impose fiscal measures like taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages to discourage their consumption and prevent obesity and diabetes, prompting the Centre to look into the matter.
The global health body, in its latest report, reiterates the need for a fiscal policy which includes subsidies for vegetables and fruits and taxes for unhealthy food alternatives.
"There is increasing evidence that appropriately designed taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages would result in proportional reductions in consumption, especially if aimed at raising the retail price by 20 per cent or more," according to the report titled 'Fiscal Policies for Diet and Prevention of NoncommunicableDiseases'.
The report says that providing subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables by reducing their prices by 10-30 per cent can lead to increased consumption of such healthy items.
A senior official of the Health Ministry said, "We will study the report."
Reduced consumption of sugary drinks would mean lower intake of "free sugars" and calories, thus leading to improved nutrition and fewer people will suffer from overweight, obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, the report said.
The report also cites the success of tobacco taxes and specific excise taxes in bringing in healthy practices.
"It has been proven that tobacco taxes, specifically excise taxes - as opposed to sales or other taxes based on a percentage of retail price, are likely to be most effective in restricting unhealthy food choices," it says.
According to the report, the revenue generated from such taxes could be invested in health services.
WHO also maintained that in the past, 'The Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2013-2020' had proposed "use of economic tools that may include taxes and subsidies to improve access to healthy dietary choices and create incentives for behaviours associated with improved health outcomes and discourage the consumption of less healthy options."
"The Comprehensive Implementation Plan on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition 2012 by WHO also considered trade measures, taxes and subsidies as an important means of guaranteeing access and enabling healthy dietary choices," it said.
The WHO report of the Commission on Ending Childhood also recommended "implementing an effective tax on sugar-sweetened beverages."
According to the global body, more than 1 in 3 adults aged 18 and above were overweight in 2014.
In addition, an estimated 42 million children aged under 5 years were overweight or obese in 2015, an increase of about 11 million during the past 15 years. Almost half of these children lived in Asia, it said.
The number of people living with diabetes has also been rising, i.E from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014, WHO added.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)