Governments must take urgent action to prevent noncommunicable diseases from becoming an uncontrollable epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Sugar-sweetened beverage taxation offers a potential solution.
Appropriately designed taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages would result in proportional reductions in consumption.
Without reliable, local and timely data, countries will miss the potential of sugar-sweetened beverage taxation as a public health intervention.
Tension between the government’s economic and public health priorities is preventing stronger fiscal measures to address nutrition-related noncommunicable diseases.
Photo by Peter Kovalev\TASS via Getty Images
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Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images
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A man reading a coke bottle in San Juan Teotihuacán, Mexico.
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As a nation, we drink 679m litres of the stuff every year.
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The sugar tax relies on creating a price difference between high- and low-sugar drinks, but this could be cancelled out by bundled offers, such as fixed-price meal deals.
The type of sugar in popular soft drinks varies from country to country even if the brand name is the same.
A recent study found Australian soft drinks had higher concentrations of glucose than US soft drinks, which had more fructose. Does this mean Australian drinks are worse for health than US drinks?
Early detection and treatment of diabetes can be life-saving, but prevention by adopting healthier diets and lifestyle is even better.
Being able to buy processed “food-like” products is often seen as a mark of personal and material success. Little attention is paid to having a healthy diet.
A tax on sugary drinks wouldn’t just prevent obesity, it could recoup some of the costs from obesity to the taxpayer.
Obesity imposes enormous costs on the community, through higher taxes to fund extra government spending on health and from foregone tax revenue because obese people are more likely to be unemployed.
A widely quoted study produced for the soft drinks industry made much of the costs, but downplayed the benefits, of a tax on sugary drinks.
Tap, tap, boom!
Science has some answers.
Sugary drinks are high in energy and lead to weight gain and obesity.
It’s time for Australia to follow the UK’s lead and increase the price of sugary drinks.