The recent decision by the Federal Government of Nigeria to introduce a 10% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages has generated a lot of controversy, comments and reactions from the public at large, including manufacturers of high-sugar drinks. . Some have expressed the view that this is an anti-grassroots policy that aims to bring hardship to an average Nigerian.
Unfortunately, the positive side of this policy from the point of view of health, in particular cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) which are part of the non-communicable diseases (NCDs), has not been given the importance it deserves, which is the subject of this article.
In Nigeria, the six major non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are cardiovascular disease (heart disease), diabetes, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, sickle cell disease and mental health. Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death and a major cause of illness and disability in Nigeria. While cardiovascular disease is most common in adults, hypertension is the number one cause of cardiovascular disease. It was reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2014 that as many as 38.1% (76.2 million) of Nigerians were living with hypertension while 5.77% (11.2 million ) were living with diabetes mellitus. According to the WHO, Nigeria has experienced epidemiological changes in recent years with a significant increase in NCD risk factors including unhealthy diet, tobacco, physical inactivity, alcohol, obesity, air pollution, etc. air and noise. Obesity is one of the most serious public health problems facing the world today, including Nigeria. Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for several non-communicable diseases, including hypertension, coronary heart disease (CHD), diabetes and cancers. In 2014, NCDs caused 24% of the total number of deaths in Nigeria, of which cardiovascular diseases accounted for 7%, while cancer and diabetes accounted for 3% and 2% respectively.
Many of the drivers for the high prevalence of NCDs are diet-related, and evidence points to poor dietary habits throughout life, beginning in the womb and continuing through adulthood. Lately, the evidence on the links between diet and cardiovascular disease has been reinforced by various global studies which have called for an urgent need to reorient national policy towards a cardiovascular healthy diet to align with health priorities. public. One of the eating habits that contributes significantly to the risk of developing obesity, diabetes and heart disease is the consumption of sugary sugary drinks (SSB). SSBs are soft drinks that contain caloric sweeteners such as sucrose (sugar) or high fructose corn syrup. The main categories of sugar-sweetened beverages are soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, less than 100% fruit or vegetable juices, ready-to-drink teas and coffees, sugar-sweetened waters and beverages made from milk. The products listed above, along with sweets, candies, cakes and cookies, are major contributors to free sugar consumption. Limiting the consumption of these food products as much as possible is highly desirable, especially for those struggling to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. Thus, limiting the consumption of free sugars as much as possible would have a beneficial impact on the cardiovascular health of the population.
Epidemiological studies have shown that people who consume a higher amount of added sugar than the recommended less than 10% of total calories (WHO), especially sugar from sugary drinks (SSB), tend to gain more weight. and have a higher risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. The results of these studies seem to suggest that the risk of hypertension may increase with increased consumption of sugary drinks in the long term, while a decrease in the consumption of sugars may lower blood pressure, especially when blood pressure is controlled. for a long period. The effects have been shown to be most evident when sugars are consumed in excess and accompanied by weight gain. Evidence suggests that the increased risk is primarily associated with fructose-containing sugars, particularly associated cardio-metabolic disorders such as the metabolic syndrome group of risk factors (abdominal obesity, atherogenic, dyslipidemia, high blood pressure, drug resistance). insulin with or without glucose intolerance), pro-inflammatory state and pro-thrombotic state.
The growing epidemics of obesity, hypertension and diabetes in Nigeria are significant public health issues that will impose a heavy health and economic burden on the Nigerian population in addition to the double burden of disease in Nigeria. Excess consumption of SSB generates both a personal cost that the individual consumer imposes on themselves by increasing the risk of contracting NCDs in the future; and the costs that consumers impose on others primarily in the form of public health costs and lost productivity. A window of opportunity for intervention is to exploit the link between sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption with obesity and NCDs.
To be continued tomorrow
Dr Akinroye is the Executive Director of the Nigerian Heart Foundation.