WHO: Sugar tax could save thousands of lives in SA

Health experts squared off against major industry players in Parliament on Tuesday at the start of public hearings on Treasury's proposal to introduce a sugar tax.

FILE: A soft drink. Picture: Freeimages.com

CAPE TOWN – The World Health Organisation (WHO) says taxing sugar-laden drinks could save the lives of almost half a million South Africans over the next four decades.

But the sugar and beverages industries say they are being unfairly targeted and the economy stands to lose.

Health experts squared off against major industry players in Parliament on Tuesday at the start of public hearings on Treasury's proposal to introduce a sugar tax.

WHO says a sugar tax could save the country’s strapped public health sector R1.7 billion over the next decade.

While the sugar industry supports the call for healthier lifestyles, it says job losses are a likely consequence.

The South African Sugar Association’s Rolf Lütge says: “We simply want to illustrate the real threats and very likely outcomes should the sugar tax go ahead.”

Beverage South Africa says rather than imposing a tax, government should look at regulating the sugar content of all foods instead.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)