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Tue 1 Nov 2016 01:24 PM

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'Sugar tax' plan to control diabetes won’t work in UAE, says EDS president

Local expert says regulated sugar content in drinks and better outreach to schools will help solve problem

'Sugar tax' plan to control diabetes won’t work in UAE, says EDS president

The World Health Organisation (WHO)'s proposal to increase taxes on sugary drinks to fight the global obesity and diabetes epidemic might not work in the UAE, the president of Emirates Diabetes Society has said.

Instead, Dr Abdul Razzaq Al Madani has suggested to the Ministry of Health and Prevention to regulate sugar content in soft drinks, provide a calorie count on food labels and keep a check on fast food outlets.

“Educating the public will work. We have already started a programme to tackle obesity in school children by educating them on the importance of healthy eating and exercising,” Al Madani told Khaleej Times.

The initial results of a survey undertaken by EDS, a non-profit medical society, shows there has been no decline in the number of diabetic people in the country.

“The numbers haven’t gone up either,” he said, adding a diabetic person spends $1,000 (AED3,672) monthly on managing the condition.

In a report titled “Fiscal Policies for Diet and Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases”, WHO said if retail prices of sugar-sweetened drinks were increased by 20 percent through taxation there would be a proportional drop in consumption that will curb consumption and fight obesity and diabetes.

In October this year, Dubai Municipality officials said Dubai was looking at issuing regulations to address the obesity issue in schoolchildren as almost 33 percent of UAE children between the ages of five and 17 were overweight and obese.

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