The National Health and Morbidity study 2015 showed the increasing trend of diabetes and obesity in Malaysia. This are all part of the Metabolic Syndrome caused by our lifestyle. Also called lifestyle diseases, the best treatment is prevention and I call this Lifestyle medicine. Though genes play a role we now know from epigenetics that your ‘bad’ genes can be ‘switched off’ and this comes back to lifestyle.
A recent survey has shown that metabolic diseases have overtaken smoking as the number one killer in the world. The rising cost of healthcare is due to this diseases- diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, gout, heart disease, strokes and obesity. Obesity is also a risk factor for cancer. Hence educating the public on the dangers of this diseases and making them understand that it is just not the medical cost but other effects like poor health that leads to absenteeism and also presentism which in turn affects productivity.
Hence the suggestion that there be a soda tax by our Member of Parliament was very timely. We have to send the right message to the consumers that this refined foods which includes sugar is bad for our health.
Just like the increase in tax for cigarettes and alcohol, sugar and soda should be treated the same way. Reducing the price of sugar will send the wrong message. Sometime consumers do not understand the ill effects of certain substances be it cigarettes or sugar. We in Malaysia love our food and we mostly eat to satisfy our taste and not to help heal our bodies. It is about time the government and consumer groups became a bit bolder and pass the right message to the public which is sugar and soda is bad for your health.
As of today no country in the world as out rightly banned smoking though some countries have certain controls. We know that smoking kills millions of people worldwide but we still continue to let cigarettes be sold. Of course we say that if we ban smoking than the illegal trade will increase.
We seem to have a lot of excuses and justifications. I worry the same will happen with this ‘poison’ called refined sugar. Children and teenagers not knowing better will pick up this habits of smoking and eating high sugar foods with serious consequences later in their lives. We must put a stop to this. Raising the price of sugar and soda is a start in the right direction.