diabetes links

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

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!


Footcare Event in Cape Town

Did you know?

There’s an International Footcare Foundation conference taking place in Cape Town in July this year – with a special emphasis on diabetes. Find out all about it at http://internationalfootcarefoundation.com/

The Conference will undertake pre-diabetic screening of 10,000 people with a family history of diabetes or a BMI greater than 25-28. Eye tests and blood tests will be undertaken off site by the appointed opticians and Pathcare depots. Foot screening will be undertaken by medical students, student podiatrists and allied medical professionals. 3000 people will be screened on each day and 1000 on the last day. Workshops will be held with the people being screened and life coaching will be given. Medical seminars will be held and issues relating to diabetes will be addressed by international and local speakers. Nutritional, life coaching and fitness workshops  will also be held over the 4 days.

A Facebook event and community page has been set up – feel free to join in!

And if you’re in Cape Town, be sure to pop down to the CTICC from the 7th to the 10th July 2014 to find out more!

Our World Diabetes Day Challenge…

… Here at Sweet Life is to make sure that YOU are getting your own, free copy of Sweet Life.

world diabetes day

So tell us:

1. Are you able to get a copy of Sweet Life at the moment?

2. If not, why not? Is there a Clicks Clinic or local support group near you where you could pick one up?

3. If you’re in a local support group but not getting Sweet Life delivered to your group, please email us and we’ll send them to you.

4. If there are no support groups or Clicks Clinics nearby, where do you get your medicine from? Is there a pharmacy we could send magazines to? A doctor’s office? Where do people with diabetes go to get help in your town? Let us know and we’ll send magazines there.

5. If all else fails, you can sign up to get a subscription copy four times a year, for R49. But we’d rather make sure all the diabetics in your area are getting copies of Sweet Life, for free!

Diabetes petition


My 14 year old son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes last year. I want to bring to your attention an initiative that I believe will greatly facilitate awareness and fundraising for T1D. A fellow mom of a T1 child, Jeanette Collier, and I have filed a petition to revise the type classification names of both T1 and T2 Diabetes to more accurately reflect the nature of onset of each condition. We believe this will benefit both the T1 and T2 communities and help protect our T1 children from dangers caused by prevalent misconceptions. We believe that clarity in the names given to these two types of Diabetes will enhance educational campaigns for all types; which in turn will benefit fundraising towards better treatments and a cure.

Our petition is approaching 5,000 signatures from all over the globe. It is supported by many well-respected individuals within the Diabetes community including:

  •         Dr. Camillo Ricordi, Scientific Director and Chief Academic Officer- Diabetes Research Institute (DRI)
  •         Robert A. Pearlman, President & CEO, Diabetes Research Institute Foundation (DRIF)
  •         Dr. G. Prakasam, Pediatric Endocrinologist, Founder/President Center of Excellence in Diabetes & Endocrinology (CEDE), past Chapter President and Board Member of ADA
  •         Dr. Mingder Yang, JDRF nPod Investigator Relationship Coordinator
  •         Moira McCarthy, Journalist/Author and JDRF National Volunteer, Chairperson and Outreach Speaker
  •         Della Matheson, RN, CDE; Research Coordinator, University of Miami Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet Clinical Center
  •         Brenda Novak, Best Selling Author and Diabetes Advocate
  •         Scott R. King, President, CEO and Founder, Islet Sheet Medical LLC, in association with Hanuman Medical Foundation
  •         Dr. Stephen Ponder, Pediatric Endocrinologist, Medical Director Texas Lions Camp
  •         Dr. David L. Katz, Founder and Director of The Yale University Prevention Center
  •         Riva Greenberg, Speaker, Author and Health Coach
  •         Theresa Garnero, Diabetes Nurse Educator, Author, and Speaker
  •         Barbara J. Anderson, Ph.D., Professor of Pediatrics, Associate Head, Psychology Section, Baylor College of Medicine; Diabetes Nurse Educator/Social Worker (Joslin, Barbara Davis, and Texas Children’s)
  •         Bret Michaels, via Life Rocks Foundation
  •         Miguel Paludo, NASCAR Driver and Diabetes Advocate
  •         Nikki Lang, Singer/Songwriter and Diabetes Advocate

The petition can be accessed via a link on our website, DiabetesTypeConfusion.org. The response we have received so far has been amazing, but additional support is still needed to bring our efforts to the forefront. We hope that you will review our petition and consider signing and promoting our cause.
Please sign the petition here if you are interested: http://www.change.org/petitions/revise-names-of-type-1-2-diabetes-to-reflect-the-nature-of-each-disease

Thank you for your consideration!

– Jamie Perez

Empowering diabetics

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On Wednesday 21st November, The Health Alliance hosted an empowerment class called Successful Living with Diabetes. In this class, there was an informative talk from Dr Jagathpal about diabetes and how to combat it, as well as a talk by The Health Alliance’s Nutrition Coach about how nutrition can help you combat the condition and what you should and shouldn’t be eating (contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to eat “special” food if you are diabetic). The Health Alliance’s trainer also spoke to the audience about exercising with diabetes and the benefits thereof.

The Health Alliance launched their “Successful Living with Diabetes” Programme through this empowerment class. They have recently joined forces with Dr Jagathpal to put together this programme where they show diabetics that living with the condition doesn’t have to be troublesome. They offer an easy to follow programme revolving around exercise, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.

The programme runs for 12 weeks and includes a one hour group personal training session three times a week, 6 consultations with a nutrition coach and 6 consultations with Dr Jagathpal. Within this 12 week programme, you can be assured that you will receive the most personalised guidance and beneficial treatment available.

The programme costs R2500 per month, find out more by emailing info @ thehealthalliance.co.za (without the spaces, of course!) The Health Alliance is based in Berea, Durban.

Do you have a course or workshop you’d like the Sweet Life community to know about? Email us the details, and we’ll share it right here!

Cycling for diabetes

Today is a special day: the start of the Changing Diabetes® Cycle Challenge, a marathon challenge of cycling from Joburg to George in just 48 hours, to raise awareness of diabetes.

Danzil Afrika is a young man with a mission – he wants children from disadvantaged communities to have reliable access to the diabetes medication they need in order to lead normal, active and healthy lives. So he and fifteen other cyclists will be hitting the tar today, 8th November, to take up the Changing Diabetes® Cycle Challenge, a marathon challenge of cycling from Joburg to George in just 48 hours. The aim of this non-stop event is to raise funds to provide treatment for underprivileged youngsters living with this chronic condition.

The group will be accompanied by legendary former Bok, Joel Stransky, who enthusiastically supports its objective. “Everyone deserves to feel good and have a proper start in life,” he says, “and for these kids that means getting the treatment and care they need.”

Danzil knows what a difference a healthy lifestyle and the right treatment can make. He is a member of the C4D cycling (Cycle4Diabetes) team established by George-based GP Dr Jacques van Staden. This dedicated team of cyclists raises around R800,000 a year to provide 16 children with analogue insulin, which costs R50 000 per year per child.

“I know how important this medication is,” says Danzil, “and I want to make sure that as many children as possible can have access to it.”

Danzil, who lives in an informal settlement in Oudtshoorn, took up cycling at the age of 15, when a teacher at his school recommended the sport as an alternative to rugby.

“I loved it right from the start,” he says, “and the exercise really helped me.  However, soon after leaving school, Danzil found himself struggling to make a living and to fund his sport. This is when he came to the attention of Dr van Staden, who offered him a place on the C4D team and financial support to buy equipment. With his race winnings providing a small income, he was able to devote himself full time to cycling and, in the past few years, he has placed extremely well at some of the country’s most prominent events, including the Cape Argus.

“The message he wants to give to those taking an interest in the cycle challenge is that, living with diabetes doesn’t mean you have to opt out of sports like cycling,” he says. “It’s just a matter of managing the condition with the right treatment, and making the right lifestyle choices. Then anything is possible.”

Dr Timmy Kedijang of Novo Nordisk, which sponsors C4D and which is sponsoring the Changing Diabetes® Cycle Challenge from Joburg to George, concurs.

“Approximately 3.5 million South Africans are living with diabetes,” he says. “The problem is that only about half have been diagnosed – and only about half of those are receiving some form of treatment.

“That is why we support events such as these – to raise awareness of diabetes and to demonstrate the fact that, with proper management, people living with the condition can do anything they choose to do.”

For Danzil, this is a start of his greatest ambition – to cycle in the Tour de France. Right now, though, he is preparing to tackle the challenge of cycling from Joburg to George. This, he hopes, will give youngsters from disadvantaged communities the chance to manage their diabetes successfully and, like him, fulfil their dreams.

Follow the team today and tomorrow on Twitter: @Change_Diabetes or on Facebook www.facebook.com/ChangingDiabetesZA

Take part in an international diabetes survey

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Do you want to be part of an international diabetes research study, specifically aimed at Type 2 diabetics?

This 15-20 minute survey will not only contribute to further diabetes knowledge, but will actually pay you R25 (how cool is that?) Here are the conditions to take part:

– Type 2 diabetes
– Diagnosed with diabetes at 40 years or older
– Currently using insulin
– Taking long-acting (basal) insulin
– Not using an insulin pump

If this sounds like you, click here to help the research study find out more about the behaviour of Type 2 insulin users (things like how often you use insulin, etc.)

There are about 15 questions and it is entirely online. As I said before, when you complete the survey you get R25 – to spend on healthy food, of course!

Check it out (and register) here.