South Africa

South African flag

South Africa faces interrelated burdens of disease resulting from a mixture of communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis as well as non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Prevalence rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes are especially high among women. In 2010, approximately 9% of men and 11.8% of women in South Africa had diabetes, a nearly twofold increase since 1980. Approximately 90% of this group suffers from type 2 diabetes mellitus, of which 60.1% is estimated to be unscreened and undiagnosed.


Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Act 2017, Act No. 14 | Implemented April 1, 2018

Health Promotion Levy

For all non-alcoholic beverages and beverage concentrates, manufacturers & distributors taxed:

  • R0.021 ($0.0014 USD) per gram sugar in excess of 4 g/100 mL.
  • If sugar is not labeled, product taxed at default rate based on containing 20 g sugar/100mL (R0.336/100 mL or $0.023 USD).

Exempt: 100% juice, dairy beverages


Front-of-package warning labels

After conducting focus groups to test and determine the most effect shape, color, and style for the proposed warning labels, the research team in South Africa conducted a randomized controlled trial to test the warning label alongside a traffic light label and Guideline Daily Amounts label. This experiment was led by Rina Stewart as part of a Department of Health task force. UWC compiled an extensive technical report that summarized all of their research on nutrient profiling models and front-of-package labels, which they presented to the National Department of Health with their evidence-based policy recommendations. This report is currently not available to the public. The draft front-of-package warning label regulation is now in the Department of Health's hands.

In-Country Team Leads



  • South African consumers' perceptions of front-of-package warning labels on unhealthy foods and drinks
    Authors: Makoma Bopape, Lindsey Smith Taillie, Tamryn Frank, Nandita Murukutla, Trish Cotter, Luyanda Majija, Rina Swart
    Published in: PLOS ONE, September 27, 2021 view full text

  • A Fit-for-Purpose Nutrient Profiling Model to Underpin Food and Nutrition Policies in South Africa
    Authors: Tamryn Frank, Anne-Marie Thow, Shu Wen Ng, Jessica Ostrowski, Makoma Bopape, Elizabeth C. Swart
    Published in: Nutrients, July 28, 2021 view full text

  • South Africa's health promotion levy: Excise tax findings and equity potential
    Authors: Karen Hofman, Nicholas Stacey, Elizabeth Swart, Barry Popkin, Shu Wen Ng
    Published in: Obesity Reviews, Mat 31, 2021 view full text

  • Taxed and untaxed beverage consumption by young adults in Langa, South Africa before and one year after a national sugar-sweetened beverage tax
    Authors: Michael Essman, Lindsey Smith Taillie, Tamryn Frank, Shu Wen Ng, Barry M. Popkin, Elizabeth C. Swart
    Published in: PLOS Medicine, May 25, 2021 view full text

  • Changes in beverage purchases following the announcement and implementation of South Africa's Health Promotion Levy: An observational study
    Authors: James Krieger, Sara Bleich, Stephanie Scarmo, and Shu Wen Ng
    Published in: The Lancet Planetary Health, April 1, 2021 view full text

  • Sugar-based beverage taxes and beverage prices: Evidence from South Africa’s Health Promotion Levy
    Authors: Nicholas Stacey, Caroline Mudara, Shu Wen Ng, Corne van Walbeek, Karen Hofmam, Ijeoma Edoka
    Published in: Social Science & Medicine, October 1 2019 view full text