Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Evidence led at the joint meeting of Parliament’s standing committee on finance and the portfolio committee on health this week further confirmed that the health case for the introduction of a sugar tax is weak.

University of Stellenbosch researchers pointed out that excessive sugar consumption is one of many risk factors in developing obesity. They emphasised that what we put in our mouths is a matter of choice.

South Africans should be educated to choose better and wiser.

A US-based Rippe Lifestyle Institute’s cardiologist provided compelling evidence that excessive calorie intake and not sugar alone is obesity’s friend. Taxing sugar may reduce sugary drink consumption but it will have little to no effect on body mass index because we have access to other sources of calories.

To use health as a reason for introducing a sugar tax is therefore intellectually dishonest. It is before Parliament, we believe, simply to generate more revenue, estimated to add R11bn to R12bn a year to the fiscus. The bottom line is that we cannot possibly introduce a sugar tax in our stagnant economy given the predictable job losses that will follow. Indeed, Cosatu has expressed grave concern about job losses estimated in the region of 50,000 and 60,000 following on the introduction of a sugar tax.

Dr Wilmot James, MP
DA shadow health minister

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