Experts have on Thursday, said Nigeria ranks 4th in the world for the highest consumers of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, SSBs, also known as soft drinks.
Executive Director, Project PINK BLUE, Runcie Chidebe, disclosed this during the global week of action for non-communicable diseases with the theme: “Invest in NCDs today, save lives and money tomorrow,” in Abuja.
Chidebe, represented by the Programme Coordinator, Project PINK BLUE, Gloria Okwu, said the World Health Organization, WHO recommends that individuals take less than 10 cubes of sugar per day as a 35cl bottle contains as much as nine cubes of sugar.
She said, “Nigeria is the world’s 4th highest consumer of SSBs commonly known as soft drinks. An estimated 38.6 million litres of soft drinks are sold in Nigeria annually. Of particular concern is overconsumption among adolescents as indicated in a study where 97 per cent of the 1,000 respondents consumed at least 35cl of soft drink daily. A 35cl bottle may contain as much as nine cubes of sugar, while the WHO recommends that individuals should take less than 10 cubes per day.”
She alluded that uncontrolled sugar intake could lead to other health conditions, like cancer, and kidney diseases.
“People who consume one or two drinks a day have a 26 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely drink them. The consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages like soft drinks has been implicated in eleven cancers and there is strong evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk of ten cancers: bowel (colorectal):
gallbladder, kidney, liver; oesophagus: ovary: pancreas, prostate (advanced): postmenopausal breast and womb (endometrial),” She stated.
Speaking in the same vein, Vice President, Nigerian Cancer Society, Comrade Elijah Elijah, said that in 2021, Nigeria accounted for 3.6 million diabetic patients, with those numbers expected to rise to 4.9 million by 2030.
He said, “The 2021 edition of the International Diabetes Federation Atlas showcases the 2020-2045 diabetes report. The total number of people living with diabetes in Nigeria rose from 3.05 million in 2011 to 3.6 million in 2021 and is projected to reach 4.94 million in 2030 and 7.98 million in 2045.”
On her part, Health Communications Specialist, National Action on Sugar Reduction, Omei Bongos-Okwue, gave a stern warning to Nigerians to moderately take soft drinks as the cost of treating diabetes has risen from N60,000 to N300,000.
She said, “Treatment of diabetes per person rose from an average cost of N60,000 in 2011 to N300,000 in 2021 and is expected to rise above N500,000 in 2030 and over N1 million by 2045 according to the IDF.
“When people have diabetes, this illness changes their life in entirety. When people are diagnosed with diabetes, they are expected to check their blood sugar every day, some are expected to inject insulin every day which costs over N2,500 and the direct cost of treating a diabetic foot ulcer has gone up to over N1 million in a country where our minimum wage is N30,000.
“Diabetes is incurable at the moment and anyone who is diagnosed with diabetes will have to battle with this illness for long.”
To this end, the experts called on the federal government to foster a sustainable Sugar-Sweetened Beverages tax to save Nigerians and the health sector.