The Nigerian Cancer Society (NCS) is rebuking the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) based on its comments that the recently introduced Sweetened Sugar Beverage (SSB) tax would harm the beverage sector.

Obesity: Experts Urge Tinubu to Begin Upward Review of SSB Tax  

Health Experts have raised alarm over the spate of obesity cases seen in children and adults, urging the Tinubu-led administration to, as a matter of urgency, begin an upward review of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, SSB, tax.

These experts, while disagreeing with calls from certain quarters seeking the removal of SSB tax, said recent statistics of obese children and adults call for urgent action against SSBs.

Professor of Endocrinology & Diabetology, Director, Centre for Diabetes Studies, University of Abuja, Felicia An umah, made this call at a sensitization event organised by National Action on Sugar Reduction Coalition, on Thursday, in Abuja.

While delivering her address, Anumah tied the growing cases of obesity to high consumption and easy accessibility of sweetened products, adding that Nigeria ranks 4th highest consumer of SSB drinks.

She said: “Over-consumption of sugar is a major contributor to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. People who consume sugary drinks regularly (1 to 2 cans a day or more) have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely consume such drinks.

“Nigeria is the 4th highest consumer of SSB drinks. SSBS are a significant contributor to energy intake, they provide little or no nutritional value, they are marketed very aggressively and are easily accessible to all age groups including children in homes, at the shops, restaurants, schools, cafeterias and in vending machines.

“Evidence has shown that with respect to obesity, an effective starting point to reduce unhealthy food consumption will be through taxing of SSBs. There is therefore a need to combine programmes that target individual behaviour change with a fiscal policy such as excise tax on SSBs.”

Read Also: World Obesity Day: Govt urged to address growing obesity crisis through SSB Tax

She said taxes on sugary drinks, if implemented in Nigeria, would help reduce consumption and prevent obesity, including increasing savings for healthcare expenditure.

“Evidence shows that a tax on sugary drinks that raises prices by 20% can lead to a reduction in consumption of around 20%, thus preventing obesity and diabetes. Small changes in diet for many individuals can translate into large population health gains at relatively low cost

“Estimates suggest that, over 10 years, a tax on sugary drinks of 1 cent per ounce in the United States of America would result in more than US$ 17 billion in healthcare cost savings.

“In the United States of America, soft drink revenue is approximately $70 billion per year, so a modest tax would generate billions of dollars. Also in China, a tax on sugary drinks of 1 yuan (US$ 0.16) per litre in China would generate an estimated 73.6 billion yuan (US$ 11.8 billion) in revenues.

“Revenue generated by these taxes could be spent on efforts to improve health care systems, encourage healthier diets, increase physical activity, or to finance Health Promotion organizations that could advocate for healthy eating including further reductions in the consumption of SSBs.”

She also tasked the current administration on accessibility to clean water, ensuring universal access to clean as part of efforts to drive good living among Nigerians.

On her part, NASR’s spokesperson, Omei Bongos-Ikwue, stressed their commitment to continued advocacy in achieving high taxation for SSBs.

She, however, urged Nigerians not to depend on the government to stop sweetened beverages but to cultivate it as a habit to stay healthy.