A law introducing a tax on sugary drinks will soon be presented to the National Assembly for discussion and approval.
The Healthy Living Alliance (Heala) said they were excited the Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment Revenue Laws Bill was being presented.
Heala co-ordinator Tracey Malawana said: “We are confident Members of Parliament will put the health of the millions of people who elected them before the narrow interests of the beverage and sugar industries and pass the bill as it stands.”
She said the tax was needed as sugar led to a number of illnesses. Heart disease, diabetes and other obesity-related diseases account for 55% of deaths in South Africa.
“People expect leadership and positive action from government when it comes to matters of health. We recently asked the research company Genesis Analytics to do a survey on public attitudes to the sugar tax and it showed that seven out of 10 South Africans supported the tax provided that the revenue was used for programmes to benefit the public.”
Gabriel Eksteen, Nutrition Science Programme manager at the Heart and Stroke Foundation, said one can of fizzy drink contained 600 kilojoules of energy, which is 7% of typical daily energy requirements.
“Our bodies don’t compensate well for sugary drinks, which means it does not satisfy our hunger, and we don’t adjust the rest of our food intake downwards. If your body stores 600 kilojoules every day, you will gain 6kg of weight in one year.”
Eksteen added one sugary drink a day increases the likelihood of being overweight by 27% in adults and by 55% in children.