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Friday, September 22, 2023

Untold dangers of carbonated drinks, others

Untold dangers of carbonated drinks, others

By Patience Ivie Ihejirika

Even though Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) contribute to the increasing rate of non-communicable diseases, a lot of people are attracted to the sweetness.

SSBs are non-alcoholic beverages containing sugars. The drinks are known as the main sources of added sugars in diets, which increase the risks of diabetes.

According to the National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR), a coalition of health organisations, “Nigeria is the 4th highest ranking soft drink consuming country in the world. As at 2019, Nigeria was ranked 7th highest per capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks globally with 498 ounce servings consumed annually.

“38.7 million litres of soft drinks are sold yearly, contributing to the prevalence of NCD related diseases. $4.5 million is spent yearly by Nigerians on the treatment of Diabetes – only one of a number of NCDs. 29 per cent of deaths in Nigerians are NCDs related (diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases).”

Also, a recent data estimates that about six million of adult Nigerians are living with diabetes. Meanwhile, experts have opined that this figure may be far from reality as estimated two-thirds of diabetes cases in the country are undiagnosed, resulting in increase in the burden of diabetes complications and deaths

A public health consultant, University College Hospital, University of Ibadan, Dr. Francis Fagbul, said SSBs include any liquids, powders, or other concentrated forms that contain natural or added sweeteners, not limited to and including various forms of sugars like brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose.

“This may include soft drinks (i.e., cola), juices (even 100% juices), nectars, sweetened coffee, sugar cane juice, sweetened tea, energy drinks, and flavored dairy,” he said.

Fagbul, who stated this at a two-day training tagged ‘Journalism Training on SSB Tax and Monitoring’ organised by the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) recently in Abuja, said SSBs are among the leading sources of free sugars, and they contain little-to-no added nutritional value.

In his presentation titled “The Burden of SSB Consumption on Public Health, Fagbul said individuals who consume SSBs do not compensate for the added calories by eating less food, which leads to weight gain and obesity.

According to him, studies show that SSBs may pose greater health risks, including the risk of metabolic syndrome, compared to sugar-containing solid food.

Also, the executive director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said habitual consumption of SSBs and other added sugars cause numerous health problems, especially non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

These diseases, according to him, including diabetes mellitus (Type II), obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases (Stroke, Heart Failure, Pulmonary Embolism), dental caries (hole in teeth) and teeth erosion.

He said “Added sugar sometimes called “empty calories” has no nutritional value. When we consume sugar, our bodies quickly convert it into glucose, which provides a quick burst of energy. However, if we don’t use up that energy, our bodies store it as fat. Over time, this can lead to weight gain and obesity”.

Oluwafemi noted that the SSB Industry has long history of undermining public health policies, saying their Industry is built on deception, manipulation of science.

On SSB tax, he explained that is not a burden on Nigerians but on the manufacturers of SSB.

“The SSB tax is not a tax that would inflict a burden on Nigerians but a tax to protect the health of the Nigerian people, a tax that would make us spend our money wisely and protect our health.”

According to him, there is enough evidence that shows that overconsumption of SSB is responsible for the rising cases of non-communicable diseases in the country, while calling on the government to ensure reduction of SSB in the country.

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