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Why South Africans will pay 'sin tax' for fizzy drinks


South Africa has joined the battle against sugar, becoming the first African country to plan a tax on drinks loaded with the sweet stuff.

That could hurt many here, for whom a supermarket trip is not complete without stocking up on their beloved garish fizzy liquid.

But University of Johannesburg third-year students Nomzamo and Precious tell me they are not about to give up their sugary treats.

"I buy fizzy drinks because I love the taste," says 21-year-old Nomzamo as she surveys her options in a packed supermarket fridge.

"It's also convenient and I don't have to worry about preparing something to drink if I have people coming over."

Precious, whose hand seems to be drawn to the bright orange Fanta, says the extra tax planned for next year will not put her off.

"We'll still buy them when the prices increase - we might buy less though but I don't see us stopping," she says.
"I think as long as you don't overdo it, there is nothing wrong with any one type of food."

At an average of less than $0.50c (£0.36) for a 330ml can, sweetened drinks are affordable for the vast majority, and have become a regular feature of the weekly diet.

And that is part of the problem.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan introduced the tax on everything from carbonated soft drinks to flavoured water in February's budget speech, partly as a way to tackle the country's bulging budget deficit, but also to deal with people's bulging waistlines.

According to a 2014 World Health Organization (WHO) estimate, one in four South Africans are obese.

A 2013 study by the Human Sciences Research Council in Johannesburg pointed the finger at sugar as being one of the possible culprits, saying that one in five South Africans consume an excessive amount of sugar.
The average South African, according to the results from a survey of 25,000 people, now have 17 teaspoons of sugar a day.

And although not the sole culprit, high sugar consumption has been linked to the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, which all put a strain on the publicly-funded health system.

South Africa's sugar intake may not be as high as Mexico, 35 teaspoons a day, or the US, 40 teaspoons a day, but it is a cause for concern as the WHO recommends no more than 10 teaspoons be eaten in a day.
South Africa has not been spared as obesity levels have soared around the world in the past couple of decades.
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