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A Tax on Sugar?

03/18/2015

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  • The World Health Organization says people around the world are eating more sugar.
  • [00:06.13]
  • As a result, it says, health problems related to weight gain and tooth damage are increasing.
  • [00:13.45]
  • Sugary foods and drinks cause tooth decay, weakening the bone.
  • [00:18.89]
  • The WHO finds that, on average, the amount of sugar in the foods we eat has risen about 10 percent over the past 10 years.
  • [00:29.30]
  • But it has risen at a faster rate in some areas.
  • [00:33.27]
  • In the Middle East and North Africa, sugar intake has risen about 15 percent over the past 10 years.
  • [00:41.72]
  • In some Asian and Pacific countries, sugar intake is 20 percent higher.
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  • And in South America, people eat more sugar than anywhere else in the world.
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  • Francesco Branca is director of the WHO's Department of Nutrition for Health.
  • [01:00.22]
  • "In South America, we have approximately 130 grams per person, per day, so much more than twice the WHO recommendation,
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  • but we also have some parts of the world where the intake is still low.
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  • It is within the WHO recommendations, such as what is happening in Equatorial and Southern Africa, where it is about 30 grams per person, per day."
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  • Mr. Branca says reducing how much sugar you eat can be difficult because so many cooks and food-makers add sugar.
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  • He says researchers found that 80 percent of the food items in U.S. markets included some kind of sugar.
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  • "Just to give you an example, an average size bowl of breakfast cereal contains four teaspoons of free sugars.
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  • If you go for a U.S.-size can of soda that contains 10 teaspoons of free sugars."
  • [02:09.00]
  • The WHO is calling on governments to take measures to reduce how much sugar people eat.
  • [02:16.11]
  • It proposes taxing products with a lot of sugar and requiring food-makers to list how much sugar can be found in their products.
  • [02:25.76]
  • Another proposal is to restrict marketing of sugary foods and drinks to children.
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  • However, the United Nations agency says it is fine to eat foods that naturally have sugar, such as fresh fruits, vegetables and even milk.
  • [02:44.26]
  • I'm Jim Tedder.
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  • Words in This Story
  • [02:48.31]
  • breakfast cereals - n. foods made from grain that people often eat as the first meal of the day. Cereal is usually eaten in a bowl with milk.
  • [03:01.07]
  • sugary - adj. tasting like sugar or containing a lot of sugar
  • [03:07.47]
  • intake - n. a food, drink or other substance taken in; the act of taking in (eating, drinking or swallowing)
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