As part of its ‘war on diabetes’ Singapore will be the first country in the world to ban adverts for sugary drinks.
According to Edwin Tong, Senior Minister of State for the city-state’s Ministry of Health, only the ‘least-healthy’ sugar-filled beverages’ ads will be curbed.
The ban will cover all media – including print, broadcast and online – and is a result of a ‘public consultation’ in the form of a survey, with 70% of people supporting further advertising regulations.
While the ministry will continue to gather more information before the ban is implemented next year, soft drinks, juices, yogurt drinks and instant coffee are all likely to be affected, as per a press release reported by CNN.
Similarly to packaging on bottles and cans of juice in the UK, the ministry say drinks will also require colour-coded labels listing nutritional values as well as the total sugar content.
This could be the first step of larger measures: according to Tong, an excise duty or even an outright ban on high-sugar drinks are still ‘on the agenda’ as part of its crackdown on diabetes.
As reported by CNN, Tong said:
We intend to study them more carefully. We want to find measures that are sustainable in the long-term, that shape not just market consumption behavior but also on the supply side to drive reformulation.
Increased consumption of high-sugar drinks has long been linked to obesity and diabetes. According to the World Health Organisation, if you’re consuming one or two cans of fizzy juice every day, you’re 26% more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who don’t drink them much at all.
Singapore, faced with an aging population, has been looking into ways to cut back on healthcare costs and is honing in on obesity, which has become more prevalent since the 1990s.
According to the International Diabetes Foundation, around one in seven adults in the city-state had diabetes in 2017.
However, Coca-Cola isn’t particularly fazed by the news – the Singaporean arm of the drinks conglomerate said it expects the ban to have ‘minimal impact on our portfolio’.
As reported by CNN, a statement from Coca-Cola read:
We have been innovating to launch new lower-sugar and no-sugar drinks. Because while sugar in moderation is fine, we agree that too much of it is not good for anyone.
Following the introduction of the sugar tax in 2018 – intended to raise money to fund school sports – many drinks in the UK have seen a fairly drastic dip in sugar content.
While Coca-Cola remains defiant, instead opting for the slight price hike, other soft drinks manufacturers chopped their sugar levels – most controversially of all, AG Barr’s Irn Bru.
I still miss my Lucozade Orange. Damn those pesky policymakers wanting me to be healthier!
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.