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Organisations demand tax for sugar-sweetened beverages

The don maintained that evidence has shown that with respect to obesity, an effective starting point to reduce unhealthy food consumption will be through taxing of SSBs.

Two top medical groups call for soda taxes and advertising curbs on sugary drinks

The organisations made the appeal on Thursday during a sensitisation walk/rally, health talk and press conference held at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), Gwagwalada.

Felicia Anumah, the Director, Centre for Diabetes Studies, University of Abuja, identified over-consumption of sugar as a major contributor to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

According to her, people who consume sugary drinks regularly have a 26 per cent greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than people who rarely consume such drinks, hence the need to impose tax on sugary products will cushion the effect.

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“Obesity is a worldwide epidemic and is a major risk factor for the growing burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), including diabetes, heart diseases and some cancers.

“In the past three decades, globalisation and urbanisation has led to a shift in food culture and convergence in consumption habits.

“In this ‘nutrition transition’, the consumption of foods high in fats, sugars, salt and sweeteners has increased throughout the developing world.

“This transition therefore is implicated in the rapid rise of obesity and diet-related chronic diseases, worldwide.

“Organisations (CSOs) advocating for policy measures to address the health risks of consuming SSBs. In December 2021, tax policy of 10% on SSBS was introduced via the Finance Act. Unfortunately, this has been suspended in June 2023.

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“Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax Policy is an anti-obesity, anti-diabetes policy,” Anumah, Prof. of Endocrinology and Diabetology, said

Besides, she defined sugary drinks as all types of beverages containing free sugars and include carbonated or non-carbonated soft drinks, fruit/vegetable juices, ready-to-drink coffee and flavoured milk drinks, among others.

However, the don maintained that evidence has shown that with respect to obesity, an effective starting point to reduce unhealthy food consumption will be through taxing of SSBs.

Anumah said: “There is therefore a need to combine programmes that target individual behaviour change with a fiscal policy such as excise tax on SSBs.”

The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the hospital, Prof. Bisallah Ekele, commended the organisations for the initiative and called for the implementation of tax on sugary products to help reduce diabetes and obesity in the country.

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Ekele, who was represented by the Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC), Dr Bob Ukonu, called for speedy implementation, with efforts from the organisations to help reduce diabetes and obesity for healthy living.

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