With the beginning of April and the increase of VAT, also comes sugar tax but with time going far to quickly and the cost of living going up, I for one am very hopeful that the sugar tax will lead to a reduction in obesity and diabetes in South Africa.
The first important thing to note about the new sugar tax is that is applies to sugar sweetened beverages only and not to all sugar and sugar containing products. The formal name for sugar tax is in fact the Sugary Beverage Levy (SBL) and is the result of a combined effort between the National Department of Health and Treasury.
The regular consumption of sugar containing beverages is a risk factor for obesity and obesity related diseases. This is most evident in children with just one sugary beverage a day leading to a 55 % increased risk of childhood obesity. Limiting the intake of sugar containing beverages is an easy way to prevent obesity and a life long habitual intake of sugar containing beverages. Childhood health significantly impacts adult health and eating behaviour.
Imposing a sugar tax on sugary beverage consumers is an effort to reduce the high intake of these beverages in South Africa which is facing an obesity crisis. The tax of 2.1 cents is charged for added sugar in excess of the 4 gram per 100 ml tax free limit. The purchase of a 2 L fizzy cold drink will set you back R3.28 for SBL alone. The new VAT rate of 15% applies after the SBL is added. The taxable sugary beverages include:
- fizzy drinks, sweetened with sugar
- flavoured milk, sweetened with sugar
- drinking yoghurt, sweetened with sugar
- iced tea
- flavoured water
- sports drinks
- energy drinks
None of these beverages offers any nutritional benefit and often displace nutrients in the diet of children who fill up on such beverages rather than adequate amounts of nutrient dense foods. So while they may appear to be growing well, from an adequate energy intake, they are likely to experience nutrient deficiencies in addition to excessive weight gain. Obesity and a nutrient deficiency are very much alike in that they are both classified as malnutrition.
It is not without just cause that sugar tax has been implemented. Obesity and its related diseases cost the government a large amount of money – money that could be spent on other health facility needs.
Save both money and your health by sticky to water and tea or coffee with little or no sugar. Make water more interesting by adding:
- orange slices
- rose water
D.I.Y iced tea
- Add a splash of 100% fruit juice, lemon slices and ice to chilled rooibos tea.
- Any flavoured herbal teas can be chilled and served with berries or cinnamon sticks