Taiwan to develop high-sugar diet tax to combat obesity

PHOTO: Taiwan to develop high-sugar diet tax to combat obesity

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Chinese-language United Evening News yesterday reported that in hopes of combating the increase in national obesity, the medical community and the government are seeking to develop a taxation policy that will impose higher taxes on products with high sugar content.

Reportedly, medical academics and the government have co-established the Academic Society of Obesity Prevention (肥胖症衛教防治學會), and will develop the High-Sugar Diet Donation (高糖飲食捐), a policy that seeks to impose a 0.2 to 0.5 per cent earmarked tax on food and beverage products with sugar content exceeding that of the national regulated standard. The tax has been called a donation as the received tax will be used to develop obesity prevention programs for the Health Promotion Administration of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (衛生福利部國民健康署).

The society stated that the first phase of the taxation programme will target processed foods, fast foods, preserved condiments, breads, cakes and sugared beverages. The first phase is expected to raise NT$1 billion (S$42million) in the first year of its implementation, and could potentially decrease the national obesity rate by 0.5 per cent, as well as decrease the annual expense to National Health Insurance by NT$10 billion.

Aside from implementing the tax, the society has stated that they will also request that fast food and processed food companies include sugar content warnings. The warnings would be divided into red, blue and green colour grades, so as to provide nutrition reference to consumers. The society also appealed to the Ministry of Education (MOE), hoping that the MOE will include proper nutrition guidelines to elementary students, so as to establish proper diet knowledge at an early age.