Today’s news comes from South Africa, where “The Coca-Cola Company has funded research by the respected think tank the SA Institute for Race Relations (IRR) on taxing sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)”. Quelle surprise!
- “The IRRs policy paper, titled A stealth tax, not a health tax, has a clear message: The proposed SSB tax should be abandoned. Coca-Cola is the only beverage brand mentioned in the 34-page document. The IRR used the Coke-funded paper to engage with National Treasury about the economic impact a sugary tax will have in South Africa should it be introduced.”
- “The amount that Coca-Cola poured into the research is a mystery, with both parties refusing to loosen the cap on detailed questions posed by Fin24. Although this is the first such incident in South Africa, Coca-Cola has been criticised over several similar incidents internationally.”
- “In South Africa the beverage industry has desperately pushed against a tax on sugar-laden drinks – a proposal deriving from the Department of Health’s strategy to reduce obesity – arguing the poor will bear the brunt.”
- “However, when poor people become ill they turn to the already creaking public healthcare system that is under severe strain because of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis. This is further compounded by the burgeoning problem of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including obesity and associated ailments like diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, which experts link to soft drink consumption. Sugar also has a negative impact on dental health and related costs.”
- “Marion Nestle, a renowned US consumer advocate, nutritionist, acclaimed author and academic, told Fin24 a serious strategy of the beverage industry has been to fund research that comes out with results that favour the industry’s interests. “If you see a study funded by a soda company or trade association, you can be almost 100% sure that its results will please its funder,” said the professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University.”