Globally renowned health experts add their names to call for sugar tax in SA

The consumption of sugary and fizzy drinks has steadily fallen in the United States for the last 11 years. ©rez-art/Istock.com
The consumption of sugary and fizzy drinks has steadily fallen in the United States for the last 11 years. ©rez-art/Istock.com

Scholars and academics from leading universities around the world have added their voices to the call for the implementation of a tax on sugary drinks in South Africa.

Signatories to an open letter in support of the tax have stated that the science on the role of sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) is clear — excess sugar consumption is a major cause of obesity and its related diseases.

The signatories include experts from the Harvard Chan School of Public Health‚ Johns Hopkins Medical Institution‚ New York University‚ University of London‚ Wits University‚ University of Cape Town‚ Stellenbosch University‚ Oxford University‚ Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública‚ and public health associations from South Africa‚ Australia and Quebec among others.

They have expressed strong support for taxation of sugary drinks in South Africa as a critical highly effective measure and part of a broader programme to address these issues. They maintain that excess sugar consumption is a major cause of obesity and its related diseases‚ as excessive sugar intake causes increased risk of diabetes‚ liver and kidney damage‚ heart disease‚ and some cancers.

Between 2001 and 2015‚ sales of sugary drinks in South Africa grew by over 65%‚ reaching 262ml per capita per day. Simultaneously‚ between 1998 and 2012‚ obesity grew from 30.0% to 39.2% among women‚ and from 7.5% to 10.6% among men.

 The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Cancer Research Fund recommend that people should consume no more than 10% of total calories from added sugar‚ and preferably less than 5%.

 

 

 

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