Much like the anti-tobacco movement over the decades, Asia’s soda-guzzling nations are stepping up and taking notice, preparing to impose taxes on fizzy drinks in an effort to curb health issues that come with consumption of these sugary beverages.
The giant global soda industry is under attack for good reason as doctors and policymakers are stunned at skyrocketing rates of diabetes and obesity (some 41 million children under the age of five worldwide are overweight or obese, nearly half of them in Asia) and other health concerns (even health conscious Singapore: 11 per cent of their people aged 18 to 69 have diabetes compared to a world average of 8.5 per cent.)
Discussions are ongoing in Indonesia, which scrapped a “luxury tax” on sweetened drinks in 2004 and likely due to the complicated nature of deciding what should fall into that sugary drink category. According to industry analysts there are many brands and types of drinks that could be taxed like the bubble drink retailers (said to contain more sugar than coke). And therein lies the challenge: regulators in countries considering the tax must be careful not to discriminate among wide ranging “local” beverages, in other words not just the obvious fizzy variety like Coca-Cola and Pepsi but packaged fruit drinks, which are just as unhealthy.
And like the astute tobacco-companies, soft-drink makers are shooting back with the message that new taxes will force them to pull out from emerging markets and that they say hurts economies and jobs. However Asian governments like Indonesia will no doubt consider the much larger costs they’ll face with chronic disease and mortality, if they can’t rein in sugar consumption.
Import regulations and taxes are one way to fight back. At the time of this Health-e report, India has already considered a 40 percent tax on soda, and a similar tax in Mexico was found to have decreased purchases by 12 percent.
The threat reaches all demographics
Ask your local barista what’s really in those trendy coffee drinks and they probably won’t wish to be quoted in fear of losing their job. But here’s the scoop, so to speak…
The Java Chip Frappuccino with whipped cream contains 47g, 66g and 88g of sugar in the tall, grande and venti respectively, according to the Starbucks website. The Hot Chocolate with whipped cream contains 34g, 43g and 57g of sugar in the tall, grande and venti respectively. The Green Tea Crème Frappuccino with whipped cream contains 48g, 65g and 88g of sugar in the tall, grande and venti respectively. Keep in mind that a cup of granulated sugar is 200g.
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf stores apparently don’t use syrups, opting for flavored powders and all of the powders contain sugar. Their hot drinks and iced coffees contain 45ml (they use ml), 60ml and 75 ml of flavored powder for the small, medium and large respectively. For the ice blends, 80ml, 125ml and 155ml of powder is used for the small, medium and large respectively. From the chain’s website, the small (approximately 355ml), medium (approximately 473ml) and large (approximately 591ml) mocha ice blend contains 41g, 55g and 81g of sugar respectively.