India is considering the introduction of a tax on sugary foods and drinks and tighter controls on their advertising.
The tax is being considered to address rising rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes in India. The Indian government recognises that consumption of junk food and sugar sweetened beverages in children could represent a substantial problem in the coming decades if the issue is not addressed.
Dr Anoop Misra, chairman of Fortis CDOC Centre of Diabetes recognises the problems associated with convenience food, “High consumption of sugary beverages contributes to multiple metabolic disorders due to accrual of body fat, as well as directly through excess nonesterified fatty acids (NEFAs), which impair critical functioning of the liver, pancreas and cellular functions,” said.
India’s decision has come soon after the UK introduced a sugar tax. Whilst the UK’s sugar tax is limited to sugary drinks, India may extend the tax to apply to foods as well. The UK’s sugar tax is set to take effect in 2018. Mexico is one country with a sugar tax in place and delivering results. Mexico’s sugar tax, which was introduced in 2014, has resulted in a 12 per cent reduction in sales of sugary drinks.
The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) reports that there are around 70 million people living with diabetes in India. This represents an 8.7 per cent of the population living with diabetes. This is higher than the UK prevalence of 6.2 per cent.
A senior official at India’s health ministry stated: “There is a serious effort to control non-communicable diseases, mainly diabetes and cancer. We have a multisectoral action plan and consultations are on with different ministries.”

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