A recent survey has found that South Africans are becoming more aware of the amount of sugar they consume through sweetened beverages.
The preliminary results of a survey conducted among 1000 adults aged between18 and 55 that the Healthy Living Alliance (HEALA) commissioned in 2016 indicated support for a tax on sugary drinks.
The survey found that three out of four adult South Africans believed that the government was doing the right thing when it made and enforced policy to discourage the consumption of sugary beverages and junk foods.
The tax on sugary drinks, they said in a statement, now had the support of seven out of 10 South Africans, provided the revenue collected was invested in programmes to benefit the public.
A total of 58% of survey participants approved unconditionally of the sugary drinks tax, while only 29% opposed the tax and the remainder took a neutral position.
Support for the tax, said researchers, had grown in recent months: a comparable survey conducted in October 2016 found that 42% of respondents favoured a sugary drinks tax.
“The debate on the proposed tax on sugary drinks has certainly raised public awareness of the sheer sugar-load that these drinks carry and their harmful impact on health,” said alliance co-ordinator Tracey Malawana.
“Most people would clearly welcome government using its muscle in a protective way to reduce sales of sugary drinks. They have totally got the idea that this is a well-intentioned tax that could improve the health of the nation.”
The survey was conducted for HEALA by the Johannesburg-based company, Genesis Analytics, in conjunction with the international consultancy, Vital Strategies.
“The survey sample consisted of 1 000 respondents, representative of the adult population in the metropolitan areas of Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.”
The survey also found that about six out of 10 people are “very concerned” or “extremely concerned” about the harm caused by sugary drinks to their health and the health of children.
Nearly nine out of 10 respondents admitted thinking now and then about the health impact of sugary drinks.
“It is striking that the majority of people felt their own health was at risk due to drinking sugar-laden drinks. This issue is something personal – it’s not someone else’s problem,” said Dr Saul Johnson, head of health practice at Genesis Analytics.