Fiscal policies for diet and the prevention of noncommunicable diseases
The Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2013–2020 proposes that “as appropriate to national context, countries consider the use of economic tools that are justified by evidence, and 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 also considers that “trade measures, taxes and subsidies are an important means of guaranteeing access and enabling healthy dietary choices”. Furthermore the Report of the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity recommends to “implement an effective tax on sugar-sweetened beverages”.
Fiscal policies for diet and the prevention of noncommunicable diseases - Technical meeting report, 5-6 May 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
To address the increasing number of requests from Member States for guidance on how to design fiscal policies on diet, WHO convened a technical meeting of global experts in fiscal policies on 5–6 May 2015 in Geneva. The main objectives of the meeting were to review evidence and existing guidance, discuss country case studies and provide considerations with regards to the scope, design and implementation of effective fiscal policies on diet. The meeting consisted of presentations and discussions during plenary and in working groups on the evidence, country experiences and technical aspects of policy design and implementation.
It was concluded that there is reasonable and 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% or more. There is similar strong evidence that subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables that reduce prices by 10–30% are effective in increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.
To advocate for the implementation of fiscal policies as part of comprehensive strategy, WHO has developed an advocacy package targeting policy makers and health advocates. The package includes: