Pretoria – The Gauteng MEC for Health, Qedani Mahlangu, says making sweetened soft drinks costly could sway people to drink fresh water – an important step in the fight against obesity.

“If we could impose a tax regime that is similar to the ‘sin tax’ applicable to alcoholic beverages, we could make it costly to choose sweetened cold drinks. Hopefully people will appreciate drinking fresh water,” said MEC Mahlangu.

This comes after her department and other provinces made a commitment to promote healthy lifestyles.

MEC Mahlangu has welcomed the research report and the suggestions for government to impose some form of a “sugar tax” on sugar sweetened beverages as a way of managing obesity.

On Wednesday, the University of Witwatersrand released a report on the “Potential Impact of a 20% Tax on Sugar sweetened Beverages on Obesity in South African Adults”.

The report confirmed the department’s assertion that sugar sweetened beverages contribute to the rates of obesity in South Africa.

Recent statistics show that one in three adults is obese, and the cause is their lifestyle choices.

“We have been very vocal in calling for responsible health behaviour and it is time that South Africans make informed decisions about what they eat, consume, and their sexual behaviour, among other factors,” said the MEC.