Singapore bans advertisements of sugary drinks. Should India follow suit?

As obesity and diabetes has become a global problem, the health ministry of Singapore has decided to ban advertisements of certain fizzy drinks and juices. It is a part of measures to curb consumption of sugar in the country

Consuming sugary drinks have a negative impact on memory and diet alternative may lead to dementia
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With this move, Singapore becomes the first country in the world to have a total ban on the advertisement of sugary drinks. Such drinks, as well as medium-to-high sugar content drinks, must also carry a label on the front of the pack to signal that it is unhealthy.

Drinks affected include those in bottles, cans and packs. It covers two- or three-in-one instant drinks, soft drinks, juices and cultured milk and yoghurt drinks.

The world is suffering from the epidemic of obesity as a whole. India too is trying to manage this problem. As a nation, India has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world. According to the medical journal – The Lancet, it ranks third after the United States of America and China. It also ranks second when it comes to childhood obesity.

Along with obesity, diabetes is also a growing threat in India. It has dubious title of being known as the diabetes capital of the world. India ranks second when it comes to cases of type-2 diabetes.  Keeping this in mind, should India also consider to implement such an idea?

My Medical Mantra spoke to a few experts to know their opinion about this matter and whether such a ban will be feasible in a country like India.

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions globally with at least 2.8 million people dying each year as a result of being overweight or obese.

As per Muffazal Lakdawala, a renowned bariatric surgeon, India is second only to China in the number of type-2 diabetes cases.

Emphasising the need to ban advertisements that lure children Dr Muffazil Lakdawala had stated in My Medical Mantra’s Healthy Maharashtra coffee table book that the policymakers should seriously deliberate on enforcing a ban on fast food which is too high on salt, sugar and other unhealthy ingredients.

The world is becoming fatter and absolutely, it is a real issue. This is caused by insulin resistance and body metabolism which can be simply defined as the ability of the body to burn fats.

India and China, being the most populated countries in the world, also have a huge chunk of obese children – 14.4 million and 15.3 million respectively.

Dr Shashank Joshi, an endocrinologist from Mumbai, informed, “Rather than putting a blanket ban on advertisements, the government needs to regulate them. There should be a red or black label when the advertisements are being played on the television. The government should focus on promoting low-calorie drinks and healthy eating habits among the masses.”

He added, “My appeal to people is avoid consuming juices, instead of that you can directly eat fresh fruits. And, people should take a sound 7 hours of sleep daily.”

There are three aspects to obesity – adult obesity, which is mainly due to faulty eating patterns and erratic lifestyle, genetic obesity, which affects around 20-25% and lastly, hormonal or metabolism-related obesity.

Dr Sanjay Borude, a bariatric surgeon from Mumbai, said, “I welcome the decision taken by the Singapore government to ban the advertisement of sugary drinks. If the Indian government follows in the footsteps of Singapore, it will surely help curb obesity among children in India.”

He added, “Big companies do aggressive advertisement of these products to attract children and youth to consume these drinks. As a state, if we want to build a healthy nation, we must regulate this kind of advertisement. Also, it should be made mandatory for the companies to write the number of calories on their product.”

One of the biggest health hurdles our country is facing is childhood obesity. If we want to win this battle, we need to act now! As responsible citizens, we need to join in the crusade against sugary drinks and junk food to safeguard our next generation.