Sugary Beverage Taxes with Dr. Karen Hofman

headshot of Karen Hofman

Dr. Karen Hofman, from the Wits School of Public Health at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, presented her research on sugary beverage taxes at the March CHDS seminar.

Dr. Hofman recounted the evolution of the South African sugar-sweetened beverage tax, which was ultimately approved by the South African government in 2018, and the findings of her research about its effects on sugar intake across individuals of varying socioeconomic status. She highlighted the distinction between regressive taxes and progressive health outcomes, finding that the sugary beverage tax disproportionally affects those of lower incomes in financial terms but simultaneously provides improvements in health. Importantly, the tax affected both producer and consumer behavior, reducing the sugar content of marketed beverages as well as purchases of these beverages. She emphasized that the tax was implemented in a context where obesity-related diseases, including hypertension and diabetes, pose a large financial burden on South Africans and the health budget. This policy provides an example of the importance of the intersectoral public health disease-prevention efforts needed to curb the rise of non-communicable diseases.

This seminar is part of a monthly online seminar series hosted by CHDS. To be added to the email list for future seminars send a note to chds@hsph.harvard.edu.

Learn more: Read about Karen Hofman and her work.
Learn more: Explore the Resource Pack: Cost-Effectiveness of SSB Excise Taxes

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