A group of Non-governmental Organisations have urged the Federal Government to impose 20 percent duty on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages to help curb increasing rate of reported obesity in Nigeria.
The groups who made this known Thursday in a statement celebrating the 2021 World Obesity marked every 4th March said FG should introduce a specific excise duty of 20% on SSBs such as soda and energy drinks and.yse the fund generated to fund the prevention and treatment of NCDs in Nigeria.
The National representative of the groups, Dr. Laz Ude Eze who said as frontline non-governmental organisations working to prevent communicable and control Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria, they cannot afford to see the detrimental health and economic effects of easy access to sugar-sweetened beverages and processed foods go unchallenged.
“We, therefore, call on the Nigerian government to tackle obesity as an emergency health issue by taking the recommended measures towards the reduction of sugar content in soft drinks and other processed foods, prevent sugar-sweetened beverage producers from advertising their products to children, tax on every surgery drinks, ensure a mandatory warning label on sugar-sweetened beverages to make sure consumers know the product’s sugar levels and health risks.
“Obesity is a disease that now affects 35% of all Nigerians from all walks of life and this day is a global day set aside to create awareness about the disease and we must underscore the importance of this urgent health issue that affects people worldwide.
“It is a risk factor for several non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, stroke, and various cancer forms. Recent studies reveal that obesity increases the mortality risk of COVID-19 by nearly 50%, making it a significant mortality risk factor.”
Dr. Eze said the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), commonly known as soft drinks, is strongly associated with obesity in Nigeria. “Nigeria ranks the 4th highest soft drink consuming country globally, with over 40 million litres sold yearly. These soft drinks contain damaging sugar levels and put their consumers, mostly poor people, at grave risk.”
He also said children are often served soft drinks with their meals and snacks, putting them at risk of childhood obesity adding that million of Nigerians are suffering from diabetes linked to excess sugar consumption. While many poor Nigerians can afford to buy soda, they cannot afford to treat diabetes, cancer, stroke and other NCDs.
“On this World Obesity Day, we urge all Nigerians to be aware of the risks of sugar-sweetened beverages and ensure they hold themselves accountable to reduce their intake and embrace healthy habits including physical exercise, drinking water, and sleeping properly.”