The government of Barbados is considering imposing a 10% tax on carbonated soft drinks, juice drinks, sports drinks and fruit juices that contain sweeteners despite widespread objections from the public.

The tax that is supposed to be effective from 1 August is aimed at reducing obesity and diabetes in the island. However, the rule has met with objection from many who feel that it is more about generating revenues rather than about health.

Reacting to the accusations, the country’s ministry of health said in a statement: "Taxation is a proven method used in public health to influence positive behaviour.

"This was clearly demonstrated in the reduced demand for and consumption of tobacco products after these products were taxed."

The government cited the 2012 health of the nation study conducted in the Caribbean island that had revealed two out of three Barbadian adults being overweight or obese, while one in three adults was hypertensive and one in five was diabetic.

Out of the school-going population that was surveyed, 31.9% were found to be overweight and 14.4% were obese.

More than 70% of the students who were a part of the survey said that they consumed carbonated sweet drinks at least once a day during the preceding month.

The statement said: "The WHO states that there is increasing concern that consumption of free sugars, particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages, may result in both an increase in total caloric intake and reduced intake of more nutrient dense foods, leading to weight gain and increased risk of NCDs."

The statement also stressed on the fact that the consumption of sugary beverages did not form part of a healthy diet and was not needed for survival.

Image: The new law imposing 10% tax on sugary drinks will be effective from 1 August. Photo: courtesy of tiverylucky/