The WHO argues for the taxing of sugary drinks with the beverage industry pointing to economic deficits

EARLIEr this year the South African Minister of Finance noted in his budget speech that a 20% sugar tax will be introduced during 2017/ this has since raised considerable debate with proponents welcoming the announcement as a measure to counter obesity-related diseases, while the beverage industry responded that it would come at significant costs to the South African economy.

In light of such diverse views, it is useful to reflect on key questions that have emerged.  In the first instance, is higher sugar intake indeed linked to greater disease onset?  Before tackling this crucial question, it is important to note that most sugar intake is currently consumed in added form in a range of foodstuffs, an example of this would be sugared cereals, yoghurt and sugar-sweetened beverages (sodas, fruit juices, energy drinks and sweetened milk drinks).

Studies show that sugar-sweetened beverages provide the bulk of added sugars and have therefore become a primary target.  The intake of added sugars and sugar-sweetened beverages has substantially increased over the last few decades – globally and in South Africa.