Singapore: First country to ban advertisements for sugar-sweetened beverages

Singapore will be the first country in the world to ban advertisements for sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) across all mass media platforms and online channels like TV, internet, newspaper, radio and outdoor ads.

In order to fight diabetes and other sugar-related diseases the Ministry of Health of the Asian city state announced on Thursday to prohibit advertising such beverages on mass media and to introduce mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labels for drinks with medium-to-high sugar content as well. The color-coded label will easily show the consumer, if a drink is healthy, neutral or unhealthy and will indicate the amount of sugar in the drink. In addition, the government authority is exploring an excise duty or even a ban on SSBs.

Details of when these new regulations will be introduced and what they exactly entail will be announced in 2020, Business Insider Singapore reported.

Senior Minister of State for Health Edwin Tong said diabetes is becoming increasingly a problem in Singapore as Singaporeans consumed an average of 12 teaspoons of sugar a day with half of the amount coming from SSBs. “This is a concern, because as on average, an additional 250ml serving of SSB per day would increase the risk of diabetes by up to 26 per cent”.

The BMJ (formerly called the British Medical Journal), one of the world's oldest general medical journals published in May 2019 the findings of a study from the French NutriNet-Santé cohort with 101 257 participants aged 18 and over. According to the research “the consumption of sugary drinks was significantly associated with the risk of overall cancer” whereas “the consumption of artificially sweetened beverages was not associated with the risk of cancer.” While “these results need replication in other large scale prospective studies […] they suggest that sugary drinks, which are widely consumed in Western countries, might represent a modifiable risk factor for cancer prevention,” the study concludes.

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