A new study has pointed to the need for a gradual reduction in the amount of sugar in soft drinks, in order to curb excess weight, obesity and type 2 diabetes in young people.
The report, published in the journal Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology talks about gradually lowering the sugar content of some of the most popular soft drinks and fruit juices, in order to combat growing health risks.
The study collected data from both the government’s national diet and nutrition survey and the British Soft Drinks Association, calculating the amount of sugary drinks consumed and their subsequent effect on the health of the British population.
The findings were then used to calculate, what effect a 40 per cent decrease would have on consumers.
Applied over a five year period, researchers say that the implementation could prevent half a million people becoming overweight in the UK, 1 million cases of obesity and possibly 300,000 cases of type 2 diabetes over the next twenty years.
The gradual reduction could mean a 38.4 percent decrease in calories consumed on a daily basis by the end of the five year period, leading to a reduction in body weight of approximately 1.2 kilograms.
The plan, according to researchers, could be seamlessly applied without public knowledge.
“The appreciation of sweetness can adapt to gradual changes in sugar intake, and it is unlikely that the proposed strategy will influence the consumers’ choice provided the gradual reduction is done over five years,” the authors write in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
This plan is aimed at avoiding backlash from the beverage industry by introducing the reduction over a period of time that is unlikely to affect sales or profits.
Whilst many are proposing a sugar tax, like the one imposed in Mexico over a year ago, big companies and government organisations are more likely to approve a plan, more closely aligned with their bottom line.
Researchers are quick to point out that such a small reduction in sugar intake is not a cure for obesity, instead, it should be taken as a “valuable contribution” to people’s health overall.
“Individuals should also reduce their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in the long term, but this can be difficult because of the advertising power of industry,” the authors write. “Our proposed strategy provides an innovative and practical way to gradually reduce energy intake from sugar-sweetened beverages and its combination with other strategies, including a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, would produce a more powerful effect.”
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