South Africa has a chance to help lead a growing global movement to adopt a national tax on sugary drinks, one of the leading causes of obesity around the world.
South Africans are among the top 10 consumers of soft drinks in the world, and it is no coincidence that the country now has the highest rate of obesity in sub-Saharan Africa, with obesity-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes accounting for 43% of deaths in the country.
Obesity also imposes a steep economic cost. In 2010, diabetes alone cost South Africa between R11-billion and R20.5-billion in health costs.
The burdens that obesity creates, on both individuals and economies, are all the more tragic when you consider that obesity and obesity-related diseases can be largely prevented by implementing proven, cost-effective measures.
Even a modest tax has the effect of making healthier beverages – including milk and water – more attractive to consumers, especially young people.
Continue reading the full op-ed in the Sunday Times