HEALA wants clear labels and sugar tax to stop SA's NCD epidemic

Healthy Living Alliance - HEALA - sugar tax - food labels
Healthy Living Alliance - HEALA - sugar tax - food labels


HEALA leads bold push for transparent food labels and sugar tax to tackle SA’s NCD epidemic

The Healthy Living Alliance (HEALA) is leading the charge in advocating for more transparent food labelling and stronger measures against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in South Africa. In light of recent research and government initiatives, HEALA emphasizes the necessity of comprehensive strategies, including bolder front-of-package warning labels (FoPWL) on unhealthy, pre-packaged foods and the effective implementation of the Health Promotion Levy (HPL), commonly known as the sugar tax.

“Today, many South Africans are living with NCDs,” says Nzama Mbalati, acting CEO of HEALA. “A growing body of literature indicates the harmful effects of consuming ultra-processed foods (UPFs) high in sugar, salt and saturated fat on developing obesity and other NCDs. That’s why HEALA is in strong support of FoPWL on unhealthy food products, as part of the solution to the rising prevalence of obesity and other diet-related diseases.”

Urgent Need for Transparency in Food Labelling

HEALA's campaign aligns with the global movement for clearer food labelling to combat the growing NCD crisis, as highlighted by the recent Statistics South Africa report. The report reveals a staggering 60% increase in NCDs over two decades, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. The proposed R3337 draft regulation by the National Department of Health aims to introduce front-of-pack labelling, helping consumers make informed choices. Foods high in salt, sugar, saturated fat, and artificial sweeteners would carry a warning triangle, a move HEALA strongly supports.

Sugary Drinks Tax: A Step in the Right Direction

The impact of the HPL or sugar tax has been a focal point in recent studies, including the work of Smit and colleagues. Their research underscores a significant support among dieticians, with 75% favouring the HPL. South Africans currently consume double the World Health Organisation's recommended sugar intake, making the sugar tax a critical tool in reducing sugary beverage consumption.

Key Findings and Future Directions

  1. Dietician Support for Sugar Tax: The study shows a notable decrease in sugary beverage consumption, aligning with global trends where similar taxes have led to reduced obesity rates.
  2. Inadequate Tax Rate: The current 11% tax falls short of the WHO's recommended 20%, and the government's pause on future increases until 2025 is a matter of concern.
  3. Comprehensive NCD Prevention Needed: Beyond the tax, effective food labelling and marketing restrictions are crucial in a broader NCD prevention strategy.

HEALA's Call to Action

HEALA urges the government to consider these findings and adopt a more aggressive stance on food labelling and sugary drinks taxation. The combination of R3337 and the HPL could be pivotal in reducing the NCD burden in South Africa. As a civil society organization, HEALA remains committed to advocating for policies that promote healthier lifestyles and prevent NCDs.

Article Courtesy of www.mantiscomms.co.za  



Mantis communications

Kerry Simpson

Tel: 079 438 3252

Email: kerry@mantiscomms.co.za