ISLAMABAD, Jun 02 (APP): International Diabetes Federation (IDF) has called for increasing Federal Excise Duty (FED) on sugar-sweetened beverages in the fight against diabetes and obesity in Pakistan.
“We support increasing FED to a minimum of 20% on a wide category of sugar-sweetened beverages as more than 33 million adults are now living with diabetes in Pakistan,” the IDF made this appeal in a letter written to the ministries and departments concerned.
The IDF has sent recommendations in continuation to their last year’s letters to key policymakers in Pakistan.
IDF is an umbrella organization of over 240 national diabetes associations in 160 countries and territories. The IDF represents the interests of the estimated 537 million now living with diabetes globally.
The letter issued from Brussels by IDF states “The complications of diabetes are debilitating, life-threatening and present a huge burden, not only to the individuals and families affected but also in economic terms at the local and national level, as a result of the associated direct and indirect costs”.
The letter said that the situation is alarming as disturbing numbers of people now living with diabetes in Pakistan. Previously estimated at just over 19 million in 2019, the number has been revised upward to a staggering 33 million based on new and more reliable data on 2021.
While referring to the last year’s communication, the letter said, “The quarters concerned should be advised to give serious consideration to fiscal policies that reduce the consumption of goods detrimental to health and encourage citizens to make healthier choices.
“We strongly support the request of the Diabetic Association of Pakistan to increase excise duty on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) to 20% and to broaden the category beyond its current definition. We have seen taxation on SSBs prove an effective tool to combat weight gain and diabetes in South-East Asia and the IDF Middle East and North African Region.”
The letter states that Diabetes is a leading global cause of premature mortality. “We estimate that diabetes was responsible for 6.7 million deaths in 2021, of which close to half could have been prevented through a healthy, balanced diet and regular physical activity, or delayed through early detection and intervention.”
The increasing availability of ultra-processed and sugary drinks, along with reduced physical activity and higher incomes often associated with the increased consumption of unhealthy foods, are all contributing factors and, of course, present opportunities where policy intervention can and should make a difference.
The IDF letter quotes “Imposing higher taxation on unhealthy products such as SSBs will help raise additional funding that can support programmes aimed at promoting healthier choices and tackle the concerning trend of overweight and obesity among the young.”
“We request to take action to prevent diabetes by responding positively to the proposal of the Diabetic Association of Pakistan to increase the tax on a wide range of sugar-sweetened beverages”.
Prof. Abdul Basit, Secretary-General Diabetic Association of Pakistan (DAP) said that more than 400,000 people are dying every year due to diabetes or its complications. Pakistanis spent more than 2640 million USD on diabetes during the year 2021.
Munawar Hussain, Consultant Food Policy Program at Global Health Advocacy Incubator said that World Bank has recently concluded the impact modelling of SSB excise tax in Pakistan. The study indicates that progressively increased taxes on a wide range of sugar-sweetened beverages including sodas, energy drinks, juices, flavored milk, and iced teas will mainly reduce diabetes in the country while the decrease in the heart disease will also be significant.
Sana Ullah Ghumman General Secretary PANAH while expressing his opinion on the letters issued by IDF said,” We are thankful to DAP and IDF for expressing their support for increasing FED on sugar-sweetened beverages.”
“We are so happy that more advocates are joining our cause of saving previous lives of Pakistanis. We hope the government will increase Federal Excise duty on a wide range of sugar-sweetened beverages in the upcoming budget for the year 2022-23 scheduled to be presented in the national assembly.

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