Taxing Our Sweet Tooth

Photo by Iouri Goussev, via Flickr

Photo by Iouri Goussev, via Flickr

Daily Maverick has an insightful article today on the proposed ‘sugar tax’, which comes into effect in April 2017. Diabetes is apparently the second highest cause of death for South Africans aged 15-49. By 2030, adult diabetes is estimated to cost the healthcare industry anything between $1-billion and $2-billion, so any moves to bring the numbers of this disease down are to be welcomed — especially when it is a simple case of changing dietary habits to prevent the onset of this slow killer.

South Africa is not alone — much of Africa faces similar problems, with obesity and malnutrition two sides of the coin. Sugar is an easy crop to grow, and the sweet stuff provides an energy boost along with a temporary mood ‘lift’. But there is a cost – there is no other nutritional value, so it’s possible to be both obese and malnourished on a diet that relies on carbohydrates like sugar and refined grains. With that come the medical issues of diabetes, heart disease and–in children–poor growth.

The article puts a strong case in favour of the tax, as well as the importance of educating people and enabling them to make better nutrition choices.