South Africa to implement a sin tax on sugar-sweetened beverages

The Obesity and Diabetes epidemic is set to cripple our global economy in the next 30 years unless drastic measures are put in place.

It’s my opinion that our Government has been fuelling our Diabetes and Obesity epidemic for far too long by allowing Big Food to place private profit ahead of public health.

The disastrous effects of the over consumption of added sugar is clearly visible and a 2011 report by healthcare giant Glaxo Smith Kline showed that South Africa is the “the third-fattest nation in the world”. A Medical Research Council study  found that 61% of the South African population is overweight or obese which is almost double the global rate of nearly 30%, according to the Lancet study.

South African Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, yesterday announced plans to introduce a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The state intends to introduce the tax on 1 April 2017 in a bid to “help reduce excessive sugar intake”.

The Mail & Guardian reported that “South Africa is fast becoming a fat nation and, according to a 2015 research paper by Tugendhaft and others, inaction over the growing intake of sugary drinks could lead to the rise of an additional 1.2-million obese South Africans by 2017.”

This will place tremendous strain on our already stretched economy, not only affecting our healthcare system but financial and human resources as well.

Is a sin tax on sugar-sweetened beverages the answer though?

Here are some of the comments I received on my Facebook page when I posed this question. This is what you had to say:

Don’t tax the people, tax the companies, tax the sugar industry!

Bolder nutritional values on labels…e.g. This product contains 10 spoons of sugar! It will never happen…..but this certainly has put the frighteners on me!”

Products high in sugar are very cheap – I’m in favour of anything that will make these products less affordable.

I fear that if we start to tax the sugary foods the next step will be to tax other foods as well (like fatty foods) and that will just keep the people away from them even more.

Any little bit helps and considering it is the poorest of poor who are suffering from the effects of sugar this can only benefit the health outcomes in the public sector in the long term…. As a parent fighting drug resistant epilepsy on the Ketogenic diet I am so incredibly happy. I live in fear of peple tempting my son daily. Just one step closer to a sugarfree enviroment.”

The Sugar Industry should be taxed and that money should go to foundations like the Noakes foundation for research and funding of healthy living campaigns. But, sugary drinks should also be taxed for the state coffers.

50% sugar tax on all soda drinks is a start. It will take time as Coke and bread are African staples. Sugar is the new tobacco. High tobacco tax has made an enormous difference here in OZ coupled with smoking bans.

The government has not been specific in how much the tax will be. So we do not know if we are speaking of R2 billion or R7 billion in extra income for the ficus. I am also concerned how they will define sugar. Would the sugar look-a-likes be included or excluded?

“I live sugar free but I don’t think this tax will stop people and I don’t believe the funds will be used appropriately either.”

My thoughts? I was asked to comment on this topic on etv last night and you can see a short clip (unfortunately not the whole interview) here:

I do think the new #SugarTax is a step in the right direction. It’s an acknowledgement of the impact added sugar has on the health of our nation and a first step towards putting measures in place to curb it.

We are not the first country in the world to implement this but amongst the world leaders in a new food movement focussed on empowering healthier food choices.

Well done to our Ministers Pravin Gorhdan and Aaron Motsoaledi for being leaders in the global Sugar Free Revolution!

Change is coming and not a minute too soon.

If you need help quitting sugar then join myself and nutritionist Emily Maguire for a four week Sugar Free Reset Webinar series.

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