The Advocating for Health (A4H) Coalition has commended the Government of Ghana for proposing a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).
The coalition, which comprises academics from five public universities in Ghana, civil society organizations, nutrition societies, and public health associations, said that the tax would be beneficial for public health, government revenue, and health equity.
“As health costs and deaths linked to these products mount, this is the right intervention to protect, promote, and assure public health. Non-communicable diseases are a major cause of death, and disability globally, and are predicted to become the leading cause of death in Africa by 2030,” part od a statement issued by the group said.
It added that “Ghana is experiencing a surge in diet-related NCDs, amidst challenges of food insecurity, micronutrient malnutrition, and infectious morbidities. Several local studies report a high prevalence of overweight and obesity among Ghanaians, ranging from 16% to 46% for children aged 6 – 15 years and 25% to 47% for adults aged 15 years or older.
One of the studies reported a 50% co-morbid conditions of diabetes and obese in Ghanaian adults. People (particularly children) who suffer from overweight or obesity have an elevated probability of developing other diet-related NCDs such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and stroke in later life. SSBs are a significant contributor to overweight, obesity and other diet-related NCDs (including dental caries). While the determinants of these conditions are many, dietary factors such as excessive consumption of calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods (including SSBs) are the most important.”
The statement further noted that “The true economic and health costs of SSBs are staggering. A team of Ghanaian researchers recently estimated the direct healthcare costs associated with obesity in older adult Ghanaian population to be very high. Compared with healthy-weight adults, overweight and obesity were associated with 75% and 159% more in-patient admissions, respectively.”
SSBs contribute significantly to overweight, obesity, and other non-communicable diseases, including dental caries. The World Health Organization has recommended that adults and children limit their free sugar intake to less than 10% of their total energy intake per day.
Over 80 countries and jurisdictions have levied taxes on SSBs, and data from these jurisdictions show that the implementation of the tax correlates with decreased consumption of SSBs, increased purchases and consumption of untaxed healthier products, and a good revenue stream for the government. In Ghana, SSBs are contributing to a surge in diet-related NCDs, and the coalition says the tax is the right intervention to protect, promote, and assure public health.