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Should all sugary drinks be taxed?

Photo: Stocksy/Giorgio Magini.jpg

You already know that sugary drinks are not your friend. (Maybe your frenemy?) They’ve been taxed heavily in many cities as a potential threat to public health—and now, the World Health Organization wants to see these sugar-busting efforts go global.

The organization is now urging governments around the world to take action against all sugary drinks—including sodas, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and iced teas—by imposing a 20 percent tax on them, the New York Times reports.

“If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can reduce suffering and save lives,” Douglas Bettcher, MD, director of the WHO’s department for the prevention of noncommunicable diseases, said in a statement. “They can also cut health care costs.”

This isn’t the first time the WHO has requested a tax like this. But this time, the organization is making its case with real-world data, looking at the effect of taxes in Philadelphia; Berkeley, CA; and cities across Mexico, which passed a nationwide sugary drink tax in 2013. Based on WHO’s analysis and research, a 20 percent tax would result in a 20 percent decrease in consumption, leading to a lower rate of obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.

Even with those success stories, the tax is still a highly controversial topic—strongly opposed by the food industry in the United States—though the problem of obesity worldwide is undeniable. The obesity rate worldwide has doubled since 1980, according to the WHO, affecting 11 percent of men and 15 percent of women.

Ready to give up your unhealthy sodas once and for all? (And that includes Diet Coke BTW.) May we suggest: one of these better-for-you beverages.

While we’re on the subject of healthy drinks, find out what types of “functional waters” are actually legit. And should you be spraying your supplements? Find out why they might be better for you.