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The World Health Organization wants a global 20 percent tax on sodas and sugary drinks

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The World Health Organization called for all countries to tax sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks and even 100 percent fruit juice on Tuesday, marking World Obesity Day.

 WHO officials argued taxes would reduce consumption of sugary drinks, and subsidizing fresh fruit and vegetables would help improve diet and nutrition. The group has long recommended that sugar be less than 10 percent of total calorie consumption.

If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can reduce suffering and save lives.
Douglas Bettcher, WHO

The WHO's argument for taxing soda: It worked for tobacco. 

The report also notes the United States is no longer the world's leading consumer of sugary drinks; Chile and Mexico have taken the lead. 

Why did this take so long?

The WHO highlighted the controversial "soda tax" in New York City as an example of the how the tax could potentially improve health. 

The report was based on information collected in May 2015, but WHO released the report Tuesday because the evidence of the link between tax policy and reduced consumption coupled with health benefits have only recently emerged, said Temo Waqanivalu, coordinator of WHO's department for the prevention of noncommunicable diseases.

Coca-Cola.jpg
A 7.5-ounce can of Coca-cola, right, is posed next to a 12-ounce can for comparison, Monday, Jan. 12, 2015 in Philadelphia. As people cut back on soda, the two beverage giants, Coke and Pepsi, are increasingly pushing smaller cans and bottles they say contain fewer calories and induce less guilt. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The WHO argues the price of sugary drinks should go up by at least 20 percent. This would help low-income consumers in particular, since they are most sensitive to price changes, according to the report.

Should the government restrict how much soda we drink?

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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