By the Blouin News Science & Health staff

Obese South Africa to tax sugary drinks

by in Fitness & Wellbeing.

Source: Swiatoslaw Wojtkowiak/flickr

Source: Swiatoslaw Wojtkowiak/flickr

South Africa’s Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced on Wednesday that the government will introduce a sugar tax. The measure, to begin on April 1, 2017, will target sweetened sugar beverages (SSBs) in a bid to curb the rise of obesity in South Africa. The country has the highest rate of obesity in sub-Saharan Africa, with accordingly high diabetes-related healthcare costs. And while dissuading excessive sugar consumption is the main goal, the additional revenue to the treasury won’t hurt. This is a welcome, overdue step.

South Africa intends to reduce its budget deficit from the current 3.9% of GDP to 3.2% next fiscal year, by cutting $1.6 billion of expenditures over the next three years and raising taxes. The government did not say how much the tax on SSBs would be, nor how much revenue it expects to raise from it. However, research institute Priceless S.A. estimated that a 20% tax on sugary drinks would bring in nearly $450 million in additional revenue each year.

The future savings in healthcare costs could be far greater still. According to Priceless S.A…

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