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Reducing Sugar Intake in South Africa: Learnings from a Multilevel Policy Analysis on Diet and Noncommunicable Disease Prevention.

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Shung-King, Maylene 
Mapa-Tassou, Clarisse  ORCID logo


High sugar intake contributes to diet-related excess weight and obesity and is a key determinant for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The World Health Organization (WHO) gives specific advice on limiting sugar intake in adults and children. Yet, to what extent have policy ideas on sugar intake reduction originating at the global level found expression at lower levels of policymaking? A systematic policy document analysis identified policies issued at the African regional, South African national and Western Cape provincial levels between 2000 and 2020 using search terms related to sugar, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), and NCDs. Forty-eight policy documents were included in the review, most were global and national policies and thus the focus of analysis. A policy transfer conceptual framework was applied. Global recommendations for effectively tackling unhealthy diets and NCDs advise implementing a mix of cost-effective policy options that employ a multisectoral approach. South African country-level policy action has followed the explicit global guidance, and ideas on reducing sugar intake have found expression in sectors outside of health, to a limited extent. As proposed in this paper, with the adoption of the SSB health tax and other policy measures, South Africa's experience offers several learnings for other LMICs.


Funder: National Institute for Health Research (NIHR); Grant(s): GHR:16/137/34, 16/137/34


NCDs, SSBs, South Africa, noncommunicable diseases, sugar, sugar-sweetened beverages, Adult, Beverages, Child, Diet, Humans, Noncommunicable Diseases, Policy, Policy Making, South Africa, Sugars, Taxes

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Int J Environ Res Public Health

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Department of Health (via National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)) (16/137/34)