By Daniel Tyokua
A coalition, National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR) has called for a definite course that would help in addressing diabetes, stroke and other diseases in the body. In a communique issued by a representative of the coalition, Omei Bongos-Ikwue after the inaugural meeting in Abuja, said there was the need for high taxation on sweetened beverages in order to limit the demand, production and its circulation.
NASR is a union of Diabetes Association of Nigeria, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Nigeria Cancer Society, Breast Without Spot, Lafiya Wealth Initiative, TalkHealth9ja, Nigeria Health Watch, Project PINK BLUE, Sustainable Development Initiative and African Youth Initiative on Population, Health and Development (AfrYPoD), all non governmental organization (NGOs).
The groups explained that the tax will make the prices high and discourage people from consuming it, saying soft drinks had contributed to the increasing cases of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) across the country.
The communique identified type II diabetes, stroke and heart as diseases being caused by high intake of sugar as well as tooth decay.
“With introduction of stringent policies into the market on sweetened beverages it will help to discourage people from the consumption.
Diseases like tooth decay and obesity are usually caused by soft drinks. An Euromonitor report had listed Nigeria as the 4th highest consumer of soft drinks in the world.
“The National Action on Sugar Reduction, a coalition of non-governmental organisations advocating for policy measures to tackle the health risks of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages, held its inaugural meeting in Abuja.
“Sugar-sweetened beverages (soft drinks) contribute significantly to the rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria, including type II diabetes, stroke and heart disease. A single soft drink bottle contains staggering amounts of sugar — up to 12 cubes.
“Soft drinks are also a major contributing factor to tooth decay and obesity, a risk factor for a host of chronic diseases. A Euromonitor report lists Nigeria as the 4th highest consumer of soft drinks in the world. NCDs have far-reaching economic effects. A significant cause of premature death in people under 40 years, NCDs have the chilling capacity to cut lives short in their prime.
“This is a setback to economic productivity. In Nigeria, the cost of diabetes care amounts to $4.5 billion per annum. These expenses come to nearly ₦37,000 a month – more than half of an average Nigerian’s monthly earnings of ₦60,000. This also amounts to more than ten times the budgetary allocation for health per citizen.
“High healthcare costs signify that many people who can afford to buy soft drinks cannot afford to treat the chronic diseases associated with drinking them”
According to the coalition, “there is growing evidence to suggest that suitable health policies, such as a tax, can discourage the consumption of sugary drinks and potentially prevent their poor health effects,’’ it said.