When it comes to public health concerns in South Africa, the focus of national health policy is often on communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
The tide is beginning to turn, however, as the incidence of diseases like diabetes has become a key health issue in the country. The year 2015 saw 7% of adults aged 20 to 79 suffering from diabetes according to the International Diabetes Federation.
As part of an effort to fight the rise of diabetes, the country’s health minister has proposed a sugar tax for 2017. A sugar tax aims, basically, to reduce sugar consumption by levying extra taxes on products of a sugary nature which causes the price to climb. The hope is that an increase in price would dissuade people from eating much of the product.
One reason why diabetes is on the rise in SA is the opening of popular American food franchises around the country. Queues, for instance, are not uncommon in the recently opened Starbucks and Krispy Kreme outlets in Johannesburg. There are also over 65 Burger King locations now open at different places in the country and on October 13, Dunkin’ Donuts – another popular American fast food outlet – opened their first store in SA.
Dunkin’ Donuts are famous for their sprinkled donuts, drizzled danishes, and syrupy iced coffees which might as well be described as poor dietary choices. Grand Parade Investments is the South African company that is operating the franchise and they also intend to open franchises of the ice-cream chain Baskin-Robbins.
The South African company has shared plans to open five more Dunkin’ Donut stores by the end of 2016 and have a total of 290 stores in 10 years. Ironically, the grand opening of Dunkin’ Donuts coincided with SA’s national nutrition week, one of the health department’s efforts to get South Africans to eat healthier.
South Africans could very easily cave to the convenience and lower cost of fast food and triple the incidence of diabetes and its likes. The sugar tax being proposed by the health minister may be the only way to save the day.