Published On: Sat, Jan 9th, 2016

IMA calls for tax measures to control diabetes

New Delhi: With over 60 million Indians being affected by diabetes, the Indian Medical Association today said the need of the hour is to reduce consumption of high trans fat and sugar laden products, and appealed to the Centre to consider implementing a sugar taxation policy like the one in Mexico.

Diet and exercise 'really do help avert diabetes.

Diet and exercise ‘really do help avert diabetes.

As reported in the British Medical Journal, a Mexican peso-per liter tax on sugary drinks implemented in January 2014 led to reduction in consumption. A six per cent decline in purchase of these beverages was reported within a year.

“This led to a 12 per cent decline in the final month of the year, mostly amongst lower income strata. Chile, Barbados, and France have also implemented sugar beverage taxes with the UK now considering it, and Mexico has further imposed taxes on other sugar-laden junk foods,” said Dr K K Aggarwal, Secretary General of the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

“With India being the diabetes capital of the world there is an immediate need to reduce the consumption of high trans-fat and sugar laden products. The first and foremost step is to raise awareness about the increasing burden of lifestyle diseases in our country and the ways in which they can be prevented.

“In the long run it is important for the administration to consider following taxation laws similar to that in Mexico.

Given the diversity of our country, it would be recommended to take Mexico’s policy on sweetened beverages as a benchmark and customize it to suit the Indian needs,” said Dr Aggarwal.

IMA National President S S Agarwal said that while Delhi has followed Mexico City’s footsteps in curbing vehicle circulation to reduce pollution, the government must work on the overall regulation of vice, starting with curbing what is in its control to stem lifestyle disease such as diabetes, currently at epidemic proportions.

Like India, prevalence of diabetes in Mexico is amongst the highest in the world, with around 70 per cent of adults being overweight or obese. Clearly regulation of vices such as cigarettes through increased costs have led to intended benefits world over of lower consumption as well.

A new report in The Lancet has estimated that reducing sugar content in sugar sweetened drinks by 40 per cent over five years could prevent half a million people from becoming overweight and a million people from becoming obese.


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