The National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR) media fellows have said that beverage tax and other healthy food policies like the Sugar Sweetened Beverage (SSB) tax, are vital to reducing non-communicable diseases in Nigeria.
They stated this in Abuja at the media parley meant to highlight the significance of healthy food policies such as the SSB tax.
The event commemorated the 2022 Gatefield and NASR Journalism fellows and provided a platform to discuss the future of advocacy for the SSB tax in Nigeria.
Speaking at the event, Shirley Ewang, Advocacy Specialist at Gatefield, emphasized the need to continue advocating for sustenance and increase of the SSB tax in Nigeria.
She noted that the timeliness of this as the beverage industry is pushing back on the tax and calling for its removal.
Joy Amafah from the Global Health Advocacy Incubator spoke about the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria and the importance of healthy food policies in reducing and preventing them.
Globally, taxation has been an effective method for reducing consumption of unhealthy foods. The SSB tax has already been implemented in places like the Americas, Mexico, and South Africa, and research shows that it has contributed to a decrease in consumption.
Rachel Abujah, an award winning journalist and Gatefield pro-health journalism fellow, said that Nigeria currently lacks an efficient food policy and that the government should define the tax and earmark it for health purposes.
She said emphasized that the government should ensure that the funds from the tax are used appropriately, and should be earmarked to improve public health.
To dispel the myth that soft drinks and other SSBs don’t lead to type 2 diabetes, Usman Bello, one of the fellows, highlighted research from the Harvard Medical School, which revealed that consuming just one can of soft drink daily increases the chance of getting type two diabetes by 26%. Bello stressed that while sugary drinks may not be the direct cause of type 2 diabetes, they are a major risk factor with no nutritional value.
Also, Edozie Chukwuma, Senior Associate, Planning Advocacy and Engagement, noted that the importance of SSB tax is such that ignoring it would worsen diabetes and other sugar related aliments having negative impacts on Nigerians.
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