In order to address the issue of soda consumption as being associated with health gain, the risk of being overweight, and the risk of obesity, firm supporter of health and education and current member of the Committee on the Welfare of Children, Congresswoman Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo of Camarines Sur, together with Dinagat Islands Rep. Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao, authored the Healthy Beverage Options Act 4021 of the Philippines.
Ten-year-old Daniel “Chip” Gatmaytan, a sixth grade student at a multiple intelligences school, has been campaigning this issue to lawmakers since 2011, since he was in first grade.
The said bill insists on the need for the regulation of the availability of beverages to children in schools, and that all schools shall educate the students in the effects of the consumption of unhealthy food and drinks, including sugar, in the body. HB 4021 encompasses Kindergarten, elementary and secondary school levels, including alternative learning systems.
Robredo noted that while no studies exist as of yet to look into the specific effects of soda consumption on Filipino children, there are already scientific findings that point to the prevalence of obesity among children is increasing.
“According to the Manila Doctors’ Hospital, the prevalence rate of obesity among children grew from 3.2 percent from 2002 to 4.9 percent in 2003,” she said. “In addition, the prevalence rate of overweight children aged 0 to 5 years increased from 0.4 percent to 1.4 percent, while the rate for children aged six to 10 years old changed from being negligible to 1.3 percent in 2003.”
“These alarming realities affecting our children led us to take up the cause against the unhealthy beverages, so last February 26, it was the day Congressman Kaka and I and Chip filed House Bill No. 4021, otherwise known as the Healthy Beverage Options Act,” explained Robredo. “The bill is really evidence-based. I am struggling as many parents are because of my kids’ access to drinks that aren’t really that healthy.”
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Robredo also cited several studies that associate sweetened beverages with health risks:
•“A study published by the American Diabetes Association discovered that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages such as soft drinks increased the risk for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.”
•“A Japanese study conducted by the researchers at the Osaka University and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also found that soda consumption leads to higher stroke risk.”
•“A study to be published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information also showed an association between soda consumption and an increased risk for colorectal cancer.”
•“Another study conducted by a Harvard Medical School researcher and published in the journal of the American Heart Association found that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages increased the risk for heart disease. In fact, the studies showed that in comparison to people who drank less than one soft drink a day, those who consumed one or more sodas a day experienced a 25 percent increase risk of impaired fasting glucose and high triglyceride levels, 31 percent greater likelihood of becoming obese, a 32 percent higher chance of lower HDL levels, and a 44 percent increased risk of metabolic syndrome.”
•“A study conducted by researchers from the MRC Human Nutrition Research from the LC Widowson Laboratory in Cambridge, UK, found that drinking carbonated soft drinks are linked to insufficient calcium in the body, impaired calcification of growing bones in children, and increased risk of bone fracture.”
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