MANILA – The World Health Organization (WHO) emphasized the need for schools to ban the sales of sugary drinks and children should be encouraged more to drink water instead.
“Schools need to ban the sales of sugary drinks and those not just what we call softdrinks but even flavored fruit juices which are so rich in sugar because these are calorie dense and nutrient-poor,” said Dr. Susan Mercado, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office Director for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and Health Through the Life Course.
During a press briefing held at WHO office in Manila, Dr. Mercado said that currently they were highly concerned that many people in member-countries in the Western Pacific Region were sugary soda drinkers during the occasion of the celebration of the World Health Day with a theme focusing about ‘Diabetes”.
The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been suggested as a contributory factor to the rising levels of childhood obesity in many countries worldwide aside from other factors such as unhealthy lifestyle, lack of physical movement and unhealthy diet.
Mercado said that sharing of experiences of the countries, which were doing initiatives to regulate the consumption of sugary beverages, were important steps so that countries in the Western Pacific Region could influence children to drink more water instead of drinking sweets and drinks all the time.
She said that currently, two countries – Mexico and United Kingdom had started to increase the taxes of said commodities (sugary drinks and sodas) and they were hopeful that many other countries would be doing the same as the best practices brought bring and spread in the regions to replicate.
She noted however, that at present there were many schools all over the region which had started to ban the sale of sweet beverages and encourage children to drink more water (safe water) often.
In line with this, in a speech of Dr. Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director delivered on the same occasion that “unhealthy lifestyle, eating of unhealthy food, not being physically active can contribute to overweight and obesity, which are two most important risk factors.
“Efforts to address overweight and obesity must start earlier. Healthy eating and exercise habits established at a young age are critical to halt the rise in diabetes among adults,” said Dr. Shin.
The WHO official further said that protecting children from marketing of unhealthy foods required cooperation among many sectors to make policies work-from health and education to commerce and trade.
On top of it all, he said the only option to fight diabetes was a sustainable prevention and management of early diabetic case as he urged for a synergize efforts in preventing premature deaths due to diabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough of the blood-sugar-regulating hormone insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.
Hyperglycaemia, or elevated blood sugar, is a common effect of diabetes that eventually leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems, especially, the nerves and blood vessels.
Diabetes can increase the over-all risk of premature death, as well as complications such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, leg amputation, vision loss and nerve damage.
In pregnancy, poorly-controlled diabetes can lead to fetal death and other complications.
The disease and its subsequent complications can also cause substantial economic loss to people with diabetes and their families, and to health systems and national economies through direct medical costs and loss of income.
It is one of the four major non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and its global prevalence has been steadily increasing in recent years.
In the Western Pacific Region alone, it is estimated that 131 million people (8.4 percent prevalence) were living with diabetes in 2014.
In the Philippines, it is estimated that the prevalence rate is at 5.8 percent.
The WHO said however, that while that was under the regional average, they believed that there was an increasing number of cases due to presence of risk factors, which are obesity and overweight that comes from eating unhealthy foods and the lack of physical activities.