The Department of Health (DOH) has called on for a higher excise tax on junk food to curb obesity in the country and to fund the Universal Health Care program.
DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said obesity remains a public health concern in the country.
“This sin tax is part of our strategies for us to be able to regulate and control these different lifestyle risk factors,” she said Sunday in a press briefing.
Around 27 million Filipinos are overweight and obese, a March 2022 report from the United Nations Children’s Fund showed.
“For the past 2 decades, overweight and obesity among adults has almost doubled from 20.2 percent in 1998 to 36.6 percent in 2019,” the DOH said, also citing a survey from the Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute.
“Similarly, the prevalence rates of overweight and obesity among adolescents have more than doubled from 4.9 percent in 2003 to 11.6 percent in 2018,” it added.
The Philippines earlier slapped higher excise taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, sugary drinks, and vapes.
Due to higher tax, smoking prevalence in the county decreased to 20 percent in 2019 from 31 percent in 2008, the health official said, citing data from DOST.
For this year, around 59 percent or P155 billion of the DOH’s budget came from sin taxes, Vergeire said.
“This is what we want to see in the coming years. That these sin taxes can fund the different interventions that we do to provide universal health care for everybody,” she added. Willie Casas