The prohibition of sale, advertisement and promotions of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in the schooling environment is expected to take effect in the coming year. This is according to the Director of Chronic Disease Unit in the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Kavita Singh.
During an interview with this publication, Dr. Singh stated that the SSBs initiative, which is being endorsed by the National Commission for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCPC-NCD), will be aimed at reducing risk of cardiovascular diseases and the scourge of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes.
Additionally, she noted that the prohibition will not only promote good health, but it will seek at integrating dietary education in the schools.
The Director asserted that is common knowledge that diabetes attracts a high mortality rate not only in Guyana, but the Caribbean region. She referenced numerous research papers which revealed how diabetes can affect students in several ways, including hyperglycemia (high sugar/ glucose levels) and hypoglycemia (low sugar/ glucose levels). It is in this regard that the Director was keen to note that these conditions can have adverse effects on a student’s cognitive functioning and thus, their school performance.
The banning of sugar-sweetened beverages, she acknowledged, might not be accepted by all, but “decisions have to be made based on what is right and health-conscious for the citizens”.
Dr. Singh revealed that the ban has already been implemented in some private schools—one being the Saraswati Vidya Niketan on the West Coast of Demerara.
Asked how she expects to convince businesses that are driven by profits to cease selling sugar-sweetened beverages, she said the private sector players need to be told that their children’s future are at risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, which could see them spending more on health care.
Dr. Singh emphasised that school vendors’ concessions will be revoked and seized if they are found to be guilty of selling the beverages even after the ban is implemented. Other consequential measures are still being debated, she added.
It was only recently that the Barbadian Health Ministry announced a complete ban on sugar-sweetened beverages being sold, provided or made available at their Ministry, its hospital, clinics, health councils and schools.
The ban took effect last Sunday.
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