Report on fiscal policies to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and other regulatory measures to promote healthy diets in the Republic of Maldives
The Maldives, a high middle-income country, is undergoing an epidemiological transition with rapidly increasing rates of overweight and obesity adding to the NCD burden. Data indicates that a fourth of adolescent girls aged are overweight, while the Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS 2014) reports an overweight and obesity prevalence of 11-18 % among teenagers. The Global Health Observatory data (2014) reported that 30% of adults are overweight. Overweight and obesity in the Maldives is attributed to unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity. A key contributor to unhealthy diet is the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). Statistics from the Maldives customs report a very high volume of energy drink imports. The GSHS reported high intakes of SSBs by children. To reduce consumption, the Ministry of Education restricted the sale and marketing of energy drinks in all public schools. Subsequently, the Government implemented an import tariff on soft drinks and energy drinks and requested the technical support of WHO in modelling the effects of the taxation and other guidance with regard to the tariff.
This report provides a situational analysis of unhealthy diets in the Maldives and global evidence on effects of SSB taxation, and assesses the effects of alternative specific excise taxes on consumption and revenue generation. It recommends, for consideration by the Government of Maldives, specific actions which would harmonize new fiscal policies to minimize substitution effects and enhance intended health benefits.