Singapore’s Ministry of Health announced a ban on adverts that promote drinks with a high sugar content. The ban is a world-first and is hoped to help tackle the country’s sugar habit.
The Senior Minister of State for Law and Health, Edwin Tong, said “Our rapidly aging population and rising prevalence of chronic diseases will lead us to an unsustainable, costly system with poorer health outcomes if we do not intervene.”
Per capita, Singapore is one of the world’s biggest consumers of sugar, averaging the equivalent of 12 teaspoons a day. The ban is set to be implemented in 2020 and comes at a time when obesity and diabetes rates in the country border on epidemic.
Globally, more than two billion adults are overweight, of which 680 million are obese. High sugar diets substantially increase the likelihood of overeating and gaining weight. Additionally, high sugar foods and drinks are often nutrient-poor, further exacerbating rates of malnutrition. Singapore’s ban could help tackle not only their climbing diabetes rates but rates of undernutrition, too.
However, it remains to be seen how effective the ban on adverts will be – will it actually lower sugary drink consumption in Singapore? Further, will it lower overall sugar consumption and diabetes rates? The outcome of Singapore’s ban could also raise questions over applying a sugar tax, such as the successful tax implemented in Chile, or banning advertisements for other foods and drinks considered ‘unhealthy’.