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Sugary drinks posing major threat to health and economy of country

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Pakistan’s economy is facing various challenges. The annual cost of management of diabetes is skyrocketing to $ 2.6 billion US Dollars estimated by International Diabetes Federation in 2021. Pakistan is now top country globally with new people becoming diabetic every year.

The consumption of sugary drinks increasing 30 percent risk of diabetes. This was said by Speakers during a workshop held at KP Food Safety and Halal Authority on Friday 23 September.

The workshop was jointly organized by Pakistan National Heart Association and KP Food Safety and Halal Authority. The workshop was attended by health experts, media, senior management of KPFSHA and civil society. 

The KPFSHA has already passed regulations to ban sales and availability of sugary drinks in educational institution of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said by Dr. Abdul Sittar, Technical Director KPFSHA. He said that sugary drinks are among the major contributors to obesity, diabetes, heart diseases and several types of cancers. The sodas, energy drinks and juices are major source of sugar intake and we must take all measures to stop its consumption he added.

Mr. Munawar Hussain, Consultant Food Policy Program at Global Health Advocacy Incubator said that there are four high impact interventions to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks and related diseases.

Progressively increasing tax on sugary drinks, front of pack warning sign, marketing restrictions and removing beverages from public institutions especially schools are helpful to countries curbing the obesity and related NCDs. He said that increasing tax on sugary drinks will reduce hospital expenditure on NCDs and generate revenue for government which can be spent on the rehabilitation activities in flood effected areas.

Husna Khattak, a representative from PANAH informed the participants about their efforts to curb the harms of sugary drinks.

She said that PANAH is not only working to raise public awareness about the health hazards of sugary drinks, but it is also working with policy makers to reduce its consumption, so that the disease burden of the country is reduced.

She said that water and unsweetened milk is most healthful drink which people should consume, instead of sugary drinks.

The data from survey in 2014-15 by World Health Organization shows that 41.3% of people in Pakistan are obese or overweight.

The National Nutrition Survey 2018 indicated that obesity in children under 5 has doubled from 2011 to 2018.

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