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Sugar Tax will curb Non Communicable Diseases

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By Mercy Kelani

Excess consumption of SSB causes health risks and sudden death.

At a Policy Breakfast Meeting in Abuja, the Chief Superintendent of Customs, Department of Excise, Free Trade Zone and Industrial Incentives, announced that the Nigerian Government has began the implementation of the N10 taxation per liter of Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSB). This is done in a bid to limit cases of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs). The Chief Superintendent stated that after the sensitization of the companies on the need and reason for the taxation, the customs began the implementation of tax on all SSB-producing companies on the 1st of June, 2022.

In 1984, the taxation of SSB’s alongside alcoholic drinks and tobacco was a policy, but in 2009, SSB’s were excluded from taxable beverages. Following the incidences of NCDs and obesity, the Federal Government of Nigeria, on December 2021, approved the taxation of N10 per liter on SSB. The government assured healthcare agencies that funds would be released to them, thus, additional revenue generated from the tax is to be channeled to NCDs caused by excess intake of sugar drinks.

11% of calories consumed by youths are from SSB.

Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSB) are drinks with added sugar such as brown sugar, raw sugar, glucose, corn sweetener, malt syrup and many more. SSB’s contain calories that provide less nutritional value and contribute to weight gain. According to calculations, approximately 11 percent of the calories consumed by youths come from sugar sweetened beverages. The odds of a child becoming obese increases by 60 percent and is measured by each 12-ounces soft drink per day consumed by the children. Among young children, aged 1-5, the intake of sweetened and carbonated soft drinks was associated with an 80-100 percent of dental caries. Its consumption has risen drastically as a result of urbanization and beverage marketing.

The extra calories added to the body through excess intake of these beverages lead to other health risks, asides weight gain, such as obesity, heart disease, tooth decay and cavities, type 2 diabetes, kidney diseases, non-alcoholic liver disease, and gout, (a type of arthritis). To reduce health risks, it is advisable to reduce consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and resort to water. Freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice, watermelon, cucumber, sliced citrus, or fresh herbs can also be added to plain or sparkling water to make it taste nicer. Limiting the consumption of sugary drinks can help the people to achieve a healthy body system and help them have and maintain healthy dietary patterns.

Medical experts support FG on the new Sugar Tax.

Although there have been oppositions to the newly introduced Sugar Tax by the National Assembly, medical experts have given beneficial reasons of the tax. As a result of the Chronic and Non Communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, kidney failure, cancer, and even sudden death is caused by the consumption of SSB. Taking no heed to the loss of jobs the tax might cause, medical experts urge the federal government to go on with it.

Dr. Kate Mandeville, the Senior Health Specialist for World Bank, spoke from Beijing China, giving reasons why Nigeria needs a sugar tax. The tax is important because it helps to improve the health of the population and add to the country’s revenue. She also affirmed that 66 countries in the world now have target excise tax, thereby, differentiating the price of sugar sweetened drinks from ordinary water. Through the imposition of tax on SSB in developed countries, its consumption decreased, while there is a continuing rise in developing countries.

Sugar Tax would reduce SSB intake, save Nigerians from medical problems.

In a bid to reduce the intake of sugar drinks, medical experts gave complementary measures that have proven to be effective in countries like Mexico and South Africa. They include; raising public awareness on the unhealthiness of the intake of SSB and reasons why its consumption should be reduced, increase in retail prices, incentivizing non price industry responses like resizing, reformation, and many more. With these measures in place and the imposition of tax, medical experts believe that the Federal Government of Nigeria would save Nigerians, especially adolescents from obesity, NCDs, and sudden deaths.

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