© Healthy Caribbean Coalition

Support to the Barbados tax on sugary drinks

25th January 2017

Public health advocates agreed on the need to work together to protect the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in place since September 2015 in Barbados, during a recent lecture hosted by the University of the West Indies and the Chronic Disease Research Centre (CDRC).  

Dr Godfrey Xuereb, PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados, said that research institutions such as the CDRC, civil society organisations and PAHO/WHO itself need to be vocal in support of the 10% excise tax implemented in 2015 by the Ministry of Finance in Barbados. It was also deemed necessary to challenge attempts by the SSBs industry to lobby the government to undermine the tax; a move that has been resisted. 

The Caribbean is leading the world in sugary drink consumption, with almost two drinks per person per day. This is resulting in a rise in obesity, which is increasingly affecting children and young people.

According to Dr Jean Adams, a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge who also spoke at the lecture, an increase of one serving of sugary drinks per day is associated with an overall heightened risk of diabetes of 18%.   

Effective August 1, 2015, the Barbados Ministry of Finance led the implementation of a 10% excise tax on SSBs. At that time, Barbados was among only 1 of 10 countries globally to implement such a tax. Barbados and the other nine countries (Chile, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Hungary, Mauritius, Mexico, Samoa, and Tonga) implemented the SSB tax as a public health measure to reduce consumption of high sugar content beverages in an attempt to tackle increasingly obesogenic environments driving skyrocketing obesity rates and related conditions including diabetes, heart disease and cancers. 

Read full press release via the link below.