Emirates

Tax on sugary beverages welcomed by residents

Tax on sugary beverages welcomed by residents

Dr Abdul Razak Al Madani, endocrinologist

Dr Abdul Razak Al Madani

“The government’s step to tax sugary beverages needs to be welcomed with full support from the community. It will be a deterrent to families and result in some control of the high consumption now. Packed fruit juices contain very high quantity of sugar, at least 5-6 teaspoons during the summers especially when people consume more than two or three mini packs. This sugar without any fiber is treated as empty calories that directly harm the pancreas and liver. All the excess sugar in the body converts into fat. People will now cut back on consumption with higher prices and it will work towards creating a healthier society.”

Nadine Aoun, Specialist Diet and Nutrition, Medcare Women and Children Hospital Medcare Hospital

Nadine Aoun

“This is the right step as in my practise, I have observed that most children in the age group of 5-14 years gain weight not from eating calories, but drinking calories in the form of sugary beverages. It’s a simple calculation — a medium orange contains upto 60 calories, which are also dense because of the high fiber. But when a child has a cup or glass of fruit juice, it requires at least four oranges without any fiber and in one serving he has double the amount of calories he would have in one orange. Besides, most of the packed fruit juices in the market, contain just fruit juice concentrate or just flavour and added sugars. This is very harmful for children. Parents are usually not very selective about the quality and quantity of packed juices that their children drink and this has a direct contribution to the obesity epidemic.”

Lizette Babilonia, Dubai housewife and mother of three children

Lizette Babilonia

“I simply love the steps the new step the government has taken, which is in line with the tax on smoking devices too. Sugar is as bad an addiction and many mothers like me were not even aware of the amount of sugar fruit juices contained. I am very health conscious and for my children’s tiffin, along with healthy home-cooked meals, I would always pack a mini carton of organic fruit juice. After becoming aware, I have started packing only water. At home too, I have stopped stocking fruit juices. Instead, I have water flavoured with fresh lemon, mint and cucumber and my children love it. Price will discourage parents, but many may still go ahead and buy. I would like the government to educate people on the reason for this tax and why they need to cut out fruit juice consumption.”

Aadit Mukherjee, Year 8 student at Gems Founders’ School

Aadit Mukherjee

“In my opinion, the UAE Government has taken a very good initiative to levy taxes on sweetened drinks. I support this move as it will help stop people, especially children from guzzling lots of packed fruit drinks without even a thought about the damage it may be causing. Combined with sedentary lifestyle such sugary beverages with high sugar content are definitely impacting the health of children. These are one of the major causes of children in turning obese and developing diabetes at a young age. As a student, I fully support this initiative.”

Raza Beig, CEO, Splash, Landmark Group

Raza Beig

“In case of consumption of food items, any rise in prices of non-essential commodities has a direct impact on the buying habits of consumers. They are likely to be discouraged to buy sweet beverages with a steep 50 per cent tax. This is the intent of the government and it will work well for community health. Although I am not an expert in this area, I can say this will send a strong message to people who are not aware of the health fallout. It is a good initiative. Last year, the tax on tobacco products and soft drinks registered a drop in purchase. One can expect the same kind of impact in this case too.”

Dr Amal Yacoub Ayed Madanat, Consultant Endocrinologist at RAK Hospital

Dr Amal Yacoub Ayed Madanat

“The UAE Government’s decision to tax sugary beverages is a step in the right direction towards achieving the goals of a healthy population. High consumption of sugar is one of the main reasons for the rise in diabetes and obesity. In earlier times, people usually had natural sugars available in dates and fruits. With urbanisation, sugar began to be processed and used as an additive to packed beverages and foods. These hidden sugars consumed in large quantities have wreaked havoc on the health of people. In many cases, people are not even aware they are consuming so many empty calories without fiber and adding high fat percentage to their body. Sugar is also one of the reasons for aggravation of cardio vascular diseases. The next step for the government will be to educate school-going students, residents of UAE at large about the danger of consumption of these high-sugar foods. Once people are able to understand the rationale it will be easier for them to support the government’s decision.”