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Coalition wants FG to tackle obesity by introducing 20% tax on soft drinks

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A coalition of Non Governmental organizations has called on the Nigerian government to tackle obesity as an emergency health issue by introducing a 20 percent excise duty on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), commonly known as soft drinks being sold in the country.

About 4 million Nigerians suffer from diabetes linked to excess sugar consumption.

Nigeria ranks the 4th highest soft drink consuming country globally, with over 40 million litres sold yearly.

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In a statement jointly issued to mark the 2021 World Obesity day in Abuja, the group while advising the government to use this tax to fund the prevention and treatment of NCDs in Nigeria, the group urged the Federal government to prevent sugar-sweetened beverage producers from advertising their products to children and ensure a mandatory warning label on sugar-sweetened beverages to make sure consumers know the product’s sugar levels and health risks.

The statement was signed by NGO’s working to prevent communicable and control Non-communicable diseases in Nigeria and they include the African Youth Initiative on Population, Health and Development (AfrYPoD), Project Pink Blue
Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH), Lafiya Wealth Initiative, Make Our Hospital Work Campaign, TalkHealth9ja, Breast Without Spot Initiative (BWS), HAPPY Nigeria, Nigerian Youth Union (NYU), Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Gatefield Impact, Testrogen Innovation Hub, The GUIHDE Initiative and the Vaccine Network for Disease Control.

Coalition of Non Governmental Organizations World Obesity Day (March 4) is a global day of awareness about obesity, underscoring the importance of this urgent health issue that affects people worldwide.

The Coalition argued that obesity is a disease that affects 35 percent of all Nigerians from all walks of life and is a risk factor for several non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, stroke, and various cancer forms.

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They noted that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), commonly known as soft drinks, is strongly associated with obesity in Nigeria adding that these soft drinks contain damaging sugar levels and put their consumers, mostly poor people, at grave risk.

According to the group, recent studies reveal that obesity increases the mortality risk of COVID-19 by nearly 50%, making it a significant mortality risk factor.

They lamented that Children are often served soft drinks with their meals and snacks, putting them at risk of childhood obesity.

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“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.

While many poor Nigerians can afford to buy soda, they cannot afford to treat diabetes, cancer, stroke and other NCDs.

As frontline non-governmental organisations working to prevent communicable and control NCDs in Nigeria, we cannot afford to see the detrimental health and economic effects of easy access to sugar-sweetened beverages and processed foods go unchallenged”.

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