A group known as the National Action on Sugar Reduction, NASR, is advocating for the regulation of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, SSBs, and foods in Nigeria.
NASR called on the National Assembly to develop a policy that would address the excessive consumption of BBR across the nation.
Dr Laz Ude Eze, the Technical Adviser, spoke on behalf of the team during a webinar meeting with stakeholders.
While urging the media to contribute its quota in reporting the dangers found in heavy intake of sweetened foods and beverages, Dr Eze identified the rapid increase in products like carbonated soft drinks, among others.
The group warned that such products’ consumption is responsible for the development of the obesity epidemic in a number of countries around the world, including Nigeria.
It is on record that Nigeria has the fourth highest consumption rates of sugar-sweetened beverages (soft drinks) globally.
Eze advised parents to reduce the number of sugary drinks given to their children daily and reconsider healthier menu preferences, adding that such beverages can increase the possibility of developing non-communicable diseases.
Diseases like diabetes, varying cancer forms, high blood pressure on infected persons in Nigeria are expected to rise beyond the already existing figures since many Nigerians can’t afford the high cost of treatment estimated at around $3.5bn to $4.5bn per annum.
A document presented to the journalists showed that healthy drinks and food are loaded with sugar in the measure equivalent to five teaspoons per serving.
It was also learned that 91% of these commodities lack front labels, still, the manufacturers claim they are healthy for consumption.
Resolutions on Regulating Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
Some of the resolutions from the meeting include the decision to urge the Federal Ministry of Health and relevant Agencies to:
- Contain consumption of SSBs in large quantities seeing that they are really harmful to human health and can have a devastating long-term effect.
- The need to introduce a fiscal measure in the form of a tax policy on sugar-sweetened beverages
- Tax sugar-sweetened drinks by submitting a specific excise duty of 20% on SSBs such as carbonated soft and energy drinks while using the tax accrued to fund the prevention and treatment of Type II diabetes in Nigeria.
- Ensure the dismissal of such dishonest packaging claims. Make it mandatory for all processed foods/drinks to have warning labels on SSBs while creating consumers’ awareness of the sugar content and health risks.
- Mandate the Committees on Healthcare Services and Legislative Compliance to ensure the companies adhere to the directives and report progress within four weeks for further legislative procedure.