WHO recommends Vietnam excises special tax on sugary beverages

Friday, 2018-06-22 16:25:05
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Vietnamese people consume twice as much sugar as recommended by the WHO. (Photo for illustration)
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NDO – Experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) have recommended imposing a special consumption tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) in Vietnam, as the drinks are causing negative health consequences for Vietnamese people.

The recommendations were announced at a workshop held by the Department of Preventive Medicine, under the Ministry of Health, in Hanoi on June 22, to discuss the control of sweetened beverage consumption to prevent non-contagious diseases.

Truong Dinh Bac, Deputy Head of the Preventive Medicine Department, said that each Vietnamese person currently consumes roughly 46.5g of sugar per day, almost equal to the maximum limit (50g/day) and double the consumption level of less than 25g a day as recommended by the WHO. Surveys on household living standards in Vietnam showed that 62.86% consumed SSB’s.

With regards to children, according to the results of a global survey on student health in 2013, the proportion of Vietnamese students who regularly drink carbonated beverages during a 30-day period is 31.1% for of the 13-17 age group, with boys at 35.1% and girls at 27.6%.

Consumption of sugary drinks has increased drastically, seven fold in the last 15 years. Reports suggest that SSB’s will lead to energy excess that results in fat accumulation, metabolic disorders, and increased risk for non-communicable diseases, such as being overweight, obesity, hypertension and osteoporosis.

According to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Nutrition on obesity in Vietnam, 16% of adult men and 20% of adult women are overweight or obese. In addition, 11.7% of boys and 7.6% of girls between the ages of 5 and 19 are overweight.

At the workshop, WHO experts recommended that, in order to limit the consumption of sugary beverages, businesses need to label their products to warn that they can cause certain harm to consumers’ health, while restricting the advertising of sugary drinks. In particular, special consumption tax should be imposed on SSB’s in order to limit consumption.

Dr. Guillermo Paraje, a WHO short-term consultant, said that there is no special consumption tax on SSB’s in Vietnam, only 10% VAT. More than 40 countries around the world have imposed special tax on these drinks.

Experts argued that if the excise tax is applied, it will make changes in the price of the products, leading to the reduce in consumption of sugary beverages and encouraging manufacturers to reduce the sugar in their products, in addition to increasing tax revenues for the State.