WHO urges tax on sugary drinks

WHO urges tax on sugary drinks to reduce consumption

Taxing sugary drinks can lower consumption and reduce obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay, says a new World Health Organization (WHO) report.

Fiscal policies that lead to at least a 20% increase in the retail price of sugary drinks would result in proportional reductions in consumption of such products, according to the report titled Fiscal policies for Diet and Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs).

Reduced consumption of sugary drinks means lower intake of “free sugars” and calories overall, improved nutrition and fewer people suffering from overweight, obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

Free sugars refer to monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

“Consumption of free sugars, including products like sugary drinks, is a major factor in the global increase of people suffering from obesity and diabetes,” says Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO’s Department for the Prevention of NCDs. “If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can reduce suffering and save lives. They can also cut healthcare costs and increase revenues to invest in health services.”

Fiscal policies should target foods and beverages for which healthier alternatives are available, the report adds.

The report presents outcomes of a mid- 2015 meeting of global experts convened by WHO and an investigation of 11 recent systematic reviews of the effectiveness of fi scal policy interventions for improving diets and preventing NCDs and a technical meeting of global experts. Other fi ndings include:

  • Subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables that reduce prices by 10-30% can increase fruit and vegetable consumption;
  • Taxation of certain foods and drinks, particularly those high in saturated fats, trans fat, free sugars and/or salt appears promising, with existing evidence clearly showing that increases in the prices of such products reduces their consumption;
  • Excise taxes, such as those used on tobacco products, that apply a set (specifi c) amount of tax on a given quantity or volume of the product, or a particular ingredient, are likely to be more effective than sales or other taxes based ona percentage of the retail price;
  • Public support for such tax increases could be increased if the revenue they generate is earmarked for efforts to improve health systems, encourage healthier diets and increase physical activity.

Low-intensity physical activity can prevent weight gain in children

As little as 10 minutes of highintensity physical activity per day reduces the amount of adipose tissue and enhances cardiorespiratory fi tness in 6-8-year-old children, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. The higher the intensity of physical activity, the stronger the association with the amount of adipose tissue. Exchanging sedentary behaviour – mainly sitting – for even low-intensity physical activity reduces the amount of adipose tissue. For physical activity to enhance cardiorespiratory fi tness, the intensity needs to be at least moderate.

The results published in Sports Medicine are part of the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) Study carried out in the University of Eastern Finland. The study was conducted in collaboration with the University of Cambridge.

The study investigated the associations of physical activity and sedentary time with body adiposity and cardiorespiratory fi tness in 410 Finnish 6-8-year-old children. Physical activity and sedentary time were assessed using a combined heart rate and movement sensor, Actiheart. Body adiposity, on the other hand, was measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and cardiorespiratory fi tness was assessed using a maximal exercise test on a cycle ergometer. Various confounding factors including diet quality and sleep length were controlled for in the analyses.

The study showed that the more children spent time doing physical activities, the lower their total body and central body adiposity were. The association between physical activity and body adiposity grew in tandem with physical activity intensity. Children engaging in as little as 10 minutes of high-intensity physical activity every day had 26-30% less central body fat than children who did not engage in high-intensity physical activity. The intensity of physical activity had to be at least moderate for it to be associated with enhanced cardiovascular fi tness.

The findings indicate that exchanging 10 minutes of sedentariness for 10 minutes of high-intensity physical activity decreases the total body and central body adiposity by 13%. Moreover, replacing sedentariness with light or moderately intensive physical activity also seems to decrease the amount of adipose tissue, but not as much as high-intensity physical activity. Exchanging 10 minutes of sedentariness for moderate- or highintensity physical activity enhances cardiovascular fi tness. The findings indicate that even small changes to exercise-related lifestyle habits can have an impact on children’s weight management and cardiovascular fitness. Increasing the amount of physical activity at various intensity levels and reducing the amount of sedentary time seem to be an important way of preventing overweight and enhancing cardiovascular fi tness in childhood.



Date of upload: 20th Nov 2016

                                               Copyright © 2016 MiddleEastHealthMag.com. All Rights Reserved.