diabetes community blog

A strong sugary drinks tax in SA

We just got the following letter from HEALA and had to share it with you – Sweet Life has submitted comment, feel free to do the same!



Dear Friends,



In recognition of the negative health effects of sugary drinks, Minister of Finance Gordhan’s 2017 budget speech included a plan to tax sugary drinks—such as fizzy drinks and energy drinks—to help South Africans live longer and healthier lives. Tackling obesity-related diseases needs to be a national priority, and the proposed tax on sugary drinks is a first step in addressing this national epidemic. It’s important to raise as many voices as possible to strengthen and pass the tax.

Treasury and Parliament are acting NOW to further consider the proposed tax. The South African government has been under immense pressure from beverage companies and retail groups to weaken this important policy with exemptions, loopholes, and watered-down regulations—and they are having an impact! Even though there’s a proposed tax in the legislation, it’s critical to raise voices to encourage our leaders to strengthen and pass this life-saving measure!

That’s why Parliament and Treasury MUST hear from YOUR ORGANIZATION to make sure the final policy is strong and effective in reducing consumption of harmful sugary drinks among South Africans. They will accept comments on the proposal through 31 March.

Your organization has a unique voice and story to tell about why this policy is important to you. While it is critical to be active and engaged in speaking out on the necessity of a strong sugary drink tax, submitting public comments to Parliament and Treasury on the tax policy is especially impactful. Below are some key messages you can customize when submitting your comments, which are being accepted until Friday, 31 March 2017.


We support the National Treasury’s sugar drink tax and applaud them for their efforts to improve South Africans’ health; however, the tax can be strengthened to make it even more effective.

Sugary drinks are one of the most significant contributors to health problems such as diabetes, obesity, heart diseases, certain cancers, and dental caries in South Africa and globally. South Africans are among the top ten consumers of soft drinks in the world. In addition, South Africa is already ranked the most obese country in sub-Saharan Africa, and a recent study found that diabetes was the second leading cause of death among South Africans in 2015.

Sugary drink taxes work to reduce consumption, improve health, and save healthcare rands. Global experts—including the World Health Organization (WHO), World Cancer Research Fund, World Heart Federation, and International Diabetes Federation—recommend sugary drink taxes as a way to reduce sugar consumption. Evidence from Mexico and other jurisdictions that have passed taxes show declines in consumption that will work to decrease diabetes and other diseases without costing jobs.

The sugary beverage companies know that the tax will work to reduce consumption and make South Africans healthier. That is why they oppose it so vehemently. By passing a strong sugary drink tax, Treasury and Parliament can protect South Africa’s health and children rather than the special interests who target their unhealthy products to our most vulnerable consumers.



Tax all the sugar in all sugary drinks

The proposed tax design exempts a large portion of the sugar in sugary drinks—giving a “discount” on the first 4g of sugar per 100mL, no matter how unhealthy a beverage is. The discount reduces the health impact of the tax and is a giveaway to the beverage industry and manufacturers whose products have the highest and most harmful levels of sugars. There is no health justification for the exclusion, and no other country with a successful sugary drink tax has followed this structure. Treasury and Parliament need to remove the 4g discount and tax all the sugar in sugary drinks.

Increase the tax rate of concentrates

The current tax proposal includes a tax rate for concentrates (squashes or syrups) that is half the rate for ready-to-drink products. South Africans are drinking more and more concentrates than ever before; it is the fastest growing segment of the sugary drink market. Consumption in terms of kcal/capita increased from 16.5 percent in 2009 to 32.9 percent in 2016; by comparison, consumption of regular cola carbonates in 2016 was only 29.3 percent. To achieve its objective of improving health, the tax must encourage South Africans to consume beverages that are lower in sugar—instead of switching to cheap sugary concentrates. The tax rate for concentrates should be increased to align with the rate for ready-to-drink sugary beverages.

Tax all drinks with added sugar

The current proposal doesn’t include all sugary drinks. Fruit/vegetable juices and dairy-based drinks with added caloric sweeteners contain equal or higher levels of sugars, despite their illusion of health. Treasury needs to clarify their proposal so that all fruit and dairy-based drinks with added caloric sweeteners (whether using a fruit juice, concentrate-based sweetener, or any other caloric sweetener) are taxed.

Some revenue from the sugary drink tax should be used to promote health

While the sugary drink tax itself will be effective in improving health, it will be even more effective if some of the revenue is used to fund programs to promote healthy eating and improve health. It’s critical that the intent expressed in the budget speech to do this is carried out in practice. South Africans need to know that revenues will be used to benefit the health of the country. Revenue should be directed towards health promotion measures, such as increasing the number of community healthcare workers, funding nurses in schools, developing and implementing effective health and nutrition education campaigns, or improving water and sanitation infrastructure.


  1. Introduce your comment by discussing why this is important to your organization; this is your chance to personalize your comments with your own experience
  2. Draft your comments on why the tax needs to be passed and strengthened, using some or all of the key messages in this document
  3. Email your comments by Friday, 31 March 2017 to: Ms Mmule Majola atmajola@treasury.gov.za and Ms Adele Collins at acollins@sars.gov.za

The South African government MUST put the health of South Africans before special interests who target vulnerable populations with their unhealthy products. Please make your voice heard today!

Best Wishes,

Tracey Malawana

Healthy Living Alliance

Humans of South Africa

Hi there,

I am a writer, copywriter and journalist; I have been running Humans of SA for 2 years – we also have a Facebook page. I wanted to create a space where I could share South African stories. My aim has always been to open windows into worlds we might know nothing about. I interviewed a lady recently who lost her father to diabetes.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 12.18.07 PM

She speaks about a lack of understanding in terms of care and treatment. I feel it is important to bring attention and help create more awareness by telling stories of people who are diabetic, of professions who can advice and help.

If you have a story you are happy to share, please get in touch by emailing me.

Thank you!


Diabetic Eye Problem


I’m Nicolene from Bloemfontein, I’m almost 19.

I was at the doctor today for my eyes. I have bleeding in the back of my eye. Just want some advice how can I make this better?

The doctor said less sugar and sugar controlled. Just want to know who also has or had bleeding in the back of their eye on this page and what did they do to make it better etc.

Thank you,

– Nicolene

How to Accept a Diabetes Diagnosis

Good evening,

My name is Timothy from KZN, I have been diagnosed with Diabetes type 2 in 2013 but the problem is that I’m failing to accept that I’m living with this chronic condition for the rest of my life.

Can anyone advise me how to accept my condition please?

– Timothy

What Do You Think of Sweet Life?

Have you always wanted to see your name in lights? We can’t help out with that, but we are looking for some more testimonials to add to our homepage… So we can put your name in Sweet Life lights!

Let us know what you think of Sweet Life: the magazine, the website or the Facebook page, along with your name and city, and we’ll publish your comments on our homepage.

Looking for inspiration? Here’s what some of our readers (and our editor!) have to say:

sweet life 1

sweet life 2

sweet life 3


Either comment on this blog post or send us an email and we’ll publish your comments right away!


Durban Diabetes Walk


It is with deep regret that we need to inform you, our wonderful supporters,  that we have had to postpone our walk until November, when all Global Diabetes Walks take place Nationally. We did not manage to procure sufficient sponsorship to cover our expenses, and as a Non-Profit Organisation unfortunately we do not have the capacity to make up for the shortfall ourselves.

We will advise you of the date in November as soon as it has been confirmed with KZN Athletics and the City of Durban. We once again apologise for any inconvenience we may have caused you.


Did you miss out on the Durban Diabetes Walk last year? Never fear – it’s going to happen in March this year! Here’s all the info you need to get walking for diabetes awareness…

Event:                   SASA amaShuga Walk for Wellness
Sunday 15th March 2015
Time:                    8am
Place:                   Amphitheatre on the Lower Marine Parade, Durban
Cost:                      R50 per person
Reason:                The aim of the walk is to educate people about diabetes
Enquiries:             Nerve Events – 0312012169 during office hours

walkers having fun

Organisers Nerve Events and Diabetes SA are stepping out with the launch of the aptly named SASA amaShuga Walk for Wellness – an exciting re-invention of what used to be the Global Diabetes Walk Durban.

The SASA amaShuga Walk for Wellness will kick off on Sunday March 15th 2015 at 8am. It will start from the Amphitheatre on the Lower Marine Parade.

There will also be a wellness expo at the amphitheatre where free blood sugar & blood pressure checks will take place.

According to Jenny Russell from Diabetes SA, a Stats SA report issued on 4 Sept 2014 showed that diabetes is the second highest cause of death in eThekwini Metro and the third highest cause of death in KZN!  

“The aim of the walk is to educate people about diabetes which is reaching epidemic proportions globally. South Africa is not immune. Obesity is an emerging health problem in KZN, particularly among women. Many women living in urban areas where there is high HIV prevalence perceive themselves to be thinner than their actual Body Mass index (BMI) suggests. This may be a barrier to weight management,” she says.

Pat Bonini of Nerve Events says that the walk will cover a distance of 5km. “We urge the public to support the event. You are also invited to bring your dogs along on a leash. The walk attracts up to 2000 people and we would like to up that figure. The Walk and Wellness Expo is also a major fundraising exercise for Diabetes SA Durban”.

Both the organisers and Diabetes South Africa would like to thank The South African Sugar Association (SASA) for supporting the amaShuga. “Local Wellness celebrity Lisa Raleigh will once again be the MC for the event and we are grateful for Lisa’s continued support for this event,” adds Bonini.

Entry fee for the event is R50 per person and details of the event can be found by searching for SASA amaShuga Walk for Wellness – Durban on Facebook, calling 0312012169 or emailing mw.nerve@mweb.co.za

Let’s all walk for wellness!

Notes from a Type 1 Diabetic


I am a Type 1 diabetic who for the first two years had perfect control. Then something happened… Life happened. I lost my control and actually started to feel like what’s the point? I gained ten kilos, my HbA1c is off the charts.

But I kept moving: running, yoga, spinning, aerobics, you name it. Eventually my lack of control or my inability to control my eating, my blood glucose and my life started to weigh down on me. I became depressed and burned out… And so I ate some more.

Over the past two months I have been on a journey into myself, I’ve read Deepak Chopra’s ‘Perfect Health’ and put my mind in a better place. I meditate daily and I believe that every moment, every challenge, every situation is as it should be. There is no reason why this shouldn’t be happening to me. This isn’t something that “happens” to people. I believe that I am my body and I am the energy I need to change things. I have started drinking water with two lady fingers and cinnamon every morning, eating according to some version of an Ayurvedic diet… And I am friends with my insulin pump.

The road is long but instead of asking why do I have to deal with this, rather I believe why shouldn’t I deal with it. I practice yoga and just last month I ran a total of 108kms. The path of least resistance is magical and as soon as we accept our circumstance, take ownership and responsibility, and instead of using our energy defensively by validating what people think of us, rather use that energy to liberate ourselves. We can create something beautiful.

My point – even though I really went off on a tangent there – is two lady fingers in half a glass of water, soak over night with some cinnamon. Drink it first thing in the morning. It is AMAZING!

– Maryam

Husband just diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes

Good day

Two weeks ago we just found out that my husband has diabetes Type 1. To be honest we were both in shock, especially when we read more about it, we knew it it a very serious disease. I think we are trying to accept and live with it positively but we are still scared and not sure what will happen as time goes.

We are reading more about it, because we need to know everything about it. It is not easy, especially if you don’t talk and think everything to yourself. The thing is we can’t just talk to anyone because most of people still do not understand out there. So we thought maybe joining Sweet life might help us heal and live positively again.

Thank you
– Nthabiseng

Can vitamin D affect blood sugar?

I am a Type 2 diabetic and battling to get my blood sugar under control.
I’m now taking insulin as well. I have also been taking vitamin supplements and vitamin D supplements 500iu per day. Included in the normal vitamin supplement is 200iu.
From last Monday I am hitting hypos everyday. Blood glucose also low in the morning.
Can the vitamin D supplement have an effect on blood glucose?

– Alta