Health researchers have called on India's Government to impose a 20% tax on sugary drinks to help curb rising obesity levels.

A Stanford University study, published yesterday (7 January) in medical journal PLOS Medicine, said the tax would reduce obesity by 3%, or 11.2m new cases, over the next decade. The Times of India said it was the first time scientists have advocated a substantial tax on sugary drinks in India.

Obesity has been identified as a major health issue in India, and reports claim that in major metros such as Mumbai and Delhi, 65% to 70% of Indians are overweight or obese. Yesterday's study, conducted along with the Public Health Foundation of India, estimated that 101m people in the country will have diabetes by 2030, nearly double the current number.

PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are both major players in the country. PepsiCo declined to comment on the report, while Coca-Cola has yet to respond. 

Other countries have considered implementing sugar taxes to fight obesity. In Mexico in November, the country moved a step nearer to a tax of MXN1 (US$0.08) per litre of sugar-sweetened beverages after the measure won approval from the Senate.

Last month an analyst warned that CSD producers must up their efforts to promote low-calorie options to avoid a “rising tide” of global anti-obesity taxation

The soft drinks industry argues that taxes are too simplistic a measure to tackle obesity and would lead to job losses.