Ex­perts high­light the dan­gers of sugar

China Daily European Weekly - - China News - By XIN WEN xin­wen@chi­nadaily.com.cn

As Chi­nese chil­dren con­sume more sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages, ex­perts are ad­vis­ing au­thor­i­ties to im­pose a sugar tax to re­duce the health risks that such drinks may bring.

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion has long ap­pealed to coun­tries to levy a sugar tax to re­duce obe­sity and di­a­betes among chil­dren, and where this has been done, the re­sults ap­pear positive.

In Mex­ico, for ex­am­ple, a 10 per­cent tax on sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages was in­tro­duced in 2014. Two years later, the coun­try saw a 5.5 per­cent drop in pur­chases of such drinks, fol­lowed by a 9.7 per­cent drop the sec­ond year. The largest de­clines were seen in the low­est so­cioe­co­nomic groups.

“There are no re­lated poli­cies for sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages in China, and that’s a ma­jor pol­icy gap that needs to be ad­dressed,” says Dou­glas James Noble, deputy rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the United Na­tions Chil­dren’s Fund. “While chil­dren suf­fer­ing from stunt­ing and wast­ing are still present in China, obe­sity is steeply on the rise.”

He strongly sug­gests that it’s nec­es­sary for China to im­pose manda­tory mea­sures, such as a sugar tax, to pro­vide a health­ier environment for chil­dren.

Chi­nese chil­dren’s con­sump­tion of sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages al­most dou­bled from 1998 to 2008, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased on May 18 by Pek­ing Univer­sity and UNICEF.

The sur­vey found that chil­dren in China’s ur­ban ar­eas drank an av­er­age of 476 milliliters of sug­ary drinks daily in 2008, com­pared with 220 ml in 1998.

Ma Guan­sheng, chief ed­i­tor of the re­port and di­rec­tor of the nu­tri­tion and food depart­ment at Pek­ing Univer­sity, says that even though the data is a decade old, it shows a gen­eral trend.

Ex­perts have warned that sug­ar­sweet­ened bev­er­ages might put chil­dren’s health at risk, in­creas­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of obe­sity, tooth de­cay and Type 2 di­a­betes.

Ma says there is no doubt that drink­ing sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages will in­crease the chance a child will be­come obese.

“It will di­rectly in­crease the en­ergy in­take of chil­dren, which will stim­u­late the kids’ ap­petite,” he says.

Ac­cord­ing to a 2015 sur­vey pub­lished by the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine, China’s child obe­sity rate ranked high­est among the 195 coun­tries sur­veyed and is one of the fastest-grow­ing in the world.

“It was also easy to con­nect the ex­ces­sive in­take of sug­ary drinks with chil­dren’s de­cayed teeth,” Ma says.

The fourth Na­tional Oral Health Sur­vey in 2015 found that 5-year-old Chi­nese had a 70.9 per­cent chance of tooth de­cay, an in­crease of 5.8 per­cent­age points in 10 years.

Ma also ad­vises stay­ing alert to other foods that con­tain added sugar — for ex­am­ple, cakes and pas­tries.

There is no world stan­dard for what a child’s daily con­sump­tion of sug­ary drinks should be. But the re­port said that daily con­sump­tion of such drinks by Chi­nese chil­dren far sur­passed some other coun­tries.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.