By Justina Auta
A coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) has called on the Federal Government to increase tax on sugary drinks to reduce the obesity crisis in the country
The coalition which made the call in a statement on Thursday in Abuja released in commemoration of the 2021 World Obesity Day, specifically asked for 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks.
They include African Youth Initiative on Population, Health and Development (AfrYPoD), Project Pink Blue and Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH)
Others are Lafiya Wealth Initiative, Make Our Hospital Work Campaign, TalkHealth9ja, Breast Without Spot Initiative (BWS), HAPPY Nigeria, Nigerian Youth Union (NYU) and Gatefield Impact.
According to the statement, Nigeria ranks 4th highest soft drink consuming country globally, with over 40 million litres sold annually.
It added that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), commonly known as soft drinks, contributed to a high rate of obesity.
“We, therefore, call on the Nigerian government to tackle obesity as an emergency health issue by taking the following measures towards the reduction of sugar content in soft drinks and other processed foods;
“We, therefore, call on the Nigerian government to introduce a specific excise duty of 20 per cent on SSBs such as soda and energy drinks.
“The government should use this tax to fund the prevention and treatment of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria.’’ it said
The coalition also advised parents to desist from serving their children soft drinks with their meals and snacks, which puts them at risk of childhood obesity.
“About four million 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,’’ it said.
The coalition called on the government to prevent sugar-sweetened beverage producers from advertising their products to children and ensure a mandatory warning label on the sugar level and health risk on the products label.
It further advised Nigerians to embrace healthy habits including physical exercise, drinking water and sleeping properly to reduce health risk.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that World Obesity Day is set aside to encourage practical solutions to help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight, undertake proper treatment, and reverse the obesity crisis.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said obesity is major risk factor for non-communicable diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke and various forms of cancer.(NAN)