Friday February 28, 2020

WHO: Tax on Sugary Drinks Could Help Curb Global Obesity

The widespread consumption of sugar is a major factor in the growing global obesity epidemic

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FILE - Sodas and energy drinks line the shelves in a grocery store in Springfield, Illinois, May 18, 2016. The World Health Organization recommends countries use tax policy to increase the price of sugary drinks as a way to fight obesity and diabetes.(VOA)
  • The WHO estimates 42 million children under age 5 were overweight or obese last year. This represents an increase of about 11 million during the past 15 years. Nearly half of these children live in Asia and 25 percent in Africa
  • The WHO report says China tops the worldwide obesity rankings with 43 million men and 46 million women.
  • The United States, which has been bumped into second place, has 41.7 million men and 46 million women who are obese.

Geneva, October 12, 2016: The World Health Organization (WHO) says the widespread consumption of sugar is a major factor in the growing global obesity epidemic. To help counter the trend, the U.N. agency is calling on governments to tax sugary drinks to lower consumption and reduce this worldwide health risks.

The call coincides with the publication of a new WHO report that found that in 2014 more than one third of adults around the world were overweight, with half a billion considered obese.

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More troubling, the WHO estimates 42 million children under age 5 were overweight or obese last year. This represents an increase of about 11 million during the past 15 years. Nearly half of these children live in Asia and 25 percent in Africa.

The U.N. agency says unhealthy diets are behind the rise in diabetes, which now accounts for more than 422 million cases and an estimated 1.5 million deaths a year. It says the consumption of sugar, including products like sugary drinks, is a major factor in the global increase of obesity and diabetes.

Temo Waganivalu, coordinator for WHO’s Department for the Prevention on Non-Communicable Diseases, told VOA putting a tax on sugary drinks would reduce consumption and save lives.

FILE - A woman walks along a boardwalk in New York. The WHO recommends people keep their sugar intake at below 10 percent of their total energy needs.(VOA)
FILE – A woman walks along a boardwalk in New York. The WHO recommends people keep their sugar intake at below 10 percent of their total energy needs.(VOA)

“If we increase the tax and that gets passed on to the consumers resulting in a 20 percent increase in price, you are more likely to get, and I say proportional, a 20 percent reduction in the consumption. In addition… you will be more likely to achieve the ultimate health outcome we are aiming for, which is the reduction in obesity and diabetes,” she said.

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Waganivalu said Mexico, which in 2014 introduced a 10 percent tax on sugary drinks, had a 6 percent reduction in consumption by the end of the year. Among poor people, the number of consumers decreased by 17 percent.

The WHO report says China tops the worldwide obesity rankings with 43 million men and 46 million women. The United States, which has been bumped into second place, has 41.7 million men and 46 million women who are obese.

The WHO recommends people keep their sugar intake at below 10 percent of their total energy needs, and reduce it to less than 5 percent for additional health benefits. It warns people to be careful in their calculations because sugar is everywhere.

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For example, one tablespoon of ketchup contains one teaspoon of sugar and an average cup of breakfast cereal contains about 4 teaspoons of sugar.(VOA)

  • Antara

    Excessive consumption of sugar is indeed very unhealthy!

Next Story

HPV Vaccinations may Reduce Cervical Cancer Rate in Kenya

Kenya's HPV Vaccinations Raise Hope of Less Cervical Cancer

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Cervical Cancer
A study of hospital records shows three-quarters of young women chose not to get the HPV vaccine which can prevent cervical cancer. VOA

By Rael Ombuor

The World Health Organization says East Africa has the highest rate of cervical cancer in the world.  In October, Kenya launched a mass vaccination of girls against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cervical cancer.  The vaccine is being welcomed by HPV patients, who hope their children will be protected better than they were.

Thirty-year-old Jacinta Agunja tested positive in 2016 for one of the human papillomaviruses (HPV) that leads to cervical cancer.

After two years of intensive and expensive treatment, she was free of HPV and did not get cancer.

Agunja hopes Kenya’s mass vaccination of girls, launched in October, will prevent her 10-year-old daughter from also getting the virus.

“That vaccine, I need it to help my daughter and other women who are not sexually active now,” said Agunja. “When they become sexually active, they will be already protected so that they cannot go through what I went through, because women in informal settlement(s) cannot afford that much.”

Kenya is offering the free HPV vaccine as part of the county’s routine immunization schedule to 10-year-old girls.

Doctors say the vaccine program is a major milestone in the fight against cervical cancer in East Africa, which has the highest rate in the world.

Dr. Catherine Nyongesa is the director of the Texas Cancer Center, a private hospital started in 2010 to offer specialized cancer treatment.

Cervical Cancer
In October, Kenya launched a mass vaccination of girls against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cervical cancer. Pixabay

“Parents are encouraged to take their children for vaccination but, all the same, vaccination does not give one the guarantee that you will not get the cancer,” said Nyongesa. “But studies in developed countries have shown that actually the rate of cervical cancer goes down with planned, proper immunization.”

At least seven women die every day in Kenya from cervical cancer, according to the Ministry of Health.

The ministry says the HPV vaccine could cut the rate of cervical cancer by up to 70 percent.

Cicily Kariuki is Kenya’s Cabinet secretary for health.

“We have managed to distribute the vaccine to 47 counties, in all of the public facilities,” said Kariuki. “We have covered an upward of up to 300,000 girls to date.  The target continues because our target is 800,000 girls.”

At least 115 countries have made the HPV vaccine routine, including some in East Africa.

Also Read- River Ice Cover Declines Rapidly due to Global Warming: Study

Rwanda first introduced the vaccine in 2006, followed by Uganda in 2015 and Tanzania in 2018.

While Kenya normally leads development in the region, its efforts in preventing cervical cancer are seen by many – including Agunja – as better late than never. (VOA)