In a statement released to mark World Obesity Day, the U.N. health agency said the global obesity rate more than doubled between 1980 and 2014, and that nearly 40 percent of people worldwide are overweight, the Associated Press reported.
Along with implementing or raising taxes on sugary beverages such as sodas and sports drinks, countries should reduce prices for fresh fruits and vegetables, the WHO said.
"Consumption of free sugars, including products like sugary drinks, is a major factor in the global increase of people suffering from obesity and diabetes," said Dr. Douglas Bettcher, head of WHO's department for preventing non-communicable diseases, the AP reported.
"If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can reduce suffering and save lives," he added.
The WHO also said Americans are no longer the top consumers of sugar-sweetened beverages because the U.S. has been surpassed by Chile and Mexico, the AP reported.