The South African National Department of Health has embarked on a mission to preclude and regulate obesity and none-communicable diseases such as high-blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. The South African Health Authorities suggested a 20% tax rate on sugary beverages in order to decrease demand and consumption. The tax is planned to be employed on 01 April 2017 once legislation has been finalized.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in his budget speech announced that the sugar tax will be enforced not only on added sugars but also on plain sugars. He revised the proposed 20% tax rate to 11%. The aim of the sugar tax is not only to produce profits by also to reduce affordability and the abuse of sugary substances. The purpose of the sugar tax includes utilizing the accumulated revenue to fund health care and medication.
The proposed sugar tax has given rise to arguments, it is argued that the tax may be unable to fulfill its goal as it may give rise to trafficking and illegal trading and production. People may turn to low quality sugary beverages that are affordable. The sugar tax may positively impact the society, but it will also negatively impacts the lower socio-economic groups. Reduction in demand may result in job losses in the sugar and sugar-products industries.
The public needs to inform themselves through engaging in debates so as to gain insight on the implementation of the sugar tax and how it impacts their health and finances. They should keep in mind the importance of maintaining a balanced diet. Obesity and none-communicable diseases are not only caused by sugary substances. Unhealthy dietary patterns such as high intake of foods rich in saturated fats, convenience foods and consuming less vegetables also have huge impact on obesity.