Excessive sugar a clear and present danger – Samuda
The health dangers of too much added sugar in the diet was among matters discussed at the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), held recently in Montego Bay.
According to conference officials, consuming an excessive amount of sugar continues to be a major health issue throughout the region and is a major contributor to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and obesity.
For Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda, excess sugar in the diet is a "clear and present danger".
He noted that many persons are consuming too much sweet foods and drinks and are now suffering the consequences.
"The fact of the matter is that we are having a serious problem and it ends up costing us in healthcare," he said.
He is imploring persons to cut back on their sugar intake. "Most of us who are in the habit of having two teaspoons of sugar in our coffee should try and reduce that to one," he suggested.
He further noted that the time has come for a serious sit-down with manufacturers of sweet drinks and other items with heavy sugar content to see how best the sugar can be minimised.
BARRED FROM SCHOOL CANTEENS
In the meantime, Director General of the FAO, Dr JosÈ Graziano da Silva, said that so serious are the problems resulting from heavy sugar intake that some countries have barred the sale of certain products in school canteens.
"Other measures have also been implemented to counter what is a serious global problem and one that the FAO takes very seriously," he noted.
"We have to, in a responsible way, implement policies. Everyone, from governments, families, consumers, makers of products, have to come together to have a complete review of what is happening and also the way forward," he added.
He noted that diabetes is a big problem across the LAC region, fuelled not only by high sugar intake but also poor lifestyle habits.
"There has to be a change in our health habits and the way we market our foods to the consumers. There will be resistance, for sure, but we have to be steadfast in our approach," he pointed out.