Food and Behaviour Research

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20 August 2014 - MedicalXpress - Sugar tax on drinks may reduce obesity

A suggested tax on sugar sweetened beverages has been given more credence in a research paper by academics from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The paper, lead authored by Manyema, measures the effect of a 20% tax on sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) on the prevalence of obesity among adults in South Africa, and finds that taxing SSBs could impact the burden of obesity in South Africa particularly in young adults, as one component of a multi-faceted effort to prevent obesity.

By instituting a 20% tax, in other words a 20% price increase per unit of SSB, it is predicted to reduce energy intake by about 36 kilojoules per day, resulting in a 3.8% reduction in obesity in men and a 2.4% reduction in obesity in women, translating in a decrease of more than 220 000 obese adults in South Africa.

"It is the responsibility of the government to protect the health of its population. One way of doing so is through "nudging" people to make healthier and more sustainable choices. An SSB tax has the potential to do this in addressing obesity-related diseases," says Manyema, a researcher from PRICELESS-SA.