Singapore Bans Sugary Drinks Ads: Should US Follow?

When carbonated drinks are endorsed by the likes of Beyoncé

and Taylor Swift, young people are influenced by the false messaging and end up ruining their health. Singapore is one country that has decided to become proactive about sending across the wrong message by banning such advertisements altogether. 

On October 10, the country’s health department declared a ban on promoting sugar-sweetened beverages on all its mass media channels. On the front of the pack, the nutrient content has to be displayed in different colors and graded based on health quotient. The intent is to warn the consumers in Singapore beforehand, so that they can make informed choices regarding the beverages they drink. 

On the heels of this announcement, the WHO released a review on the health concerns of energy drinks in Europe on October 14. The report named a few countries that have banned energy drinks from being sold: Denmark, Turkey, Norway, Uruguay and Iceland. 

Countries made the decision to curb the obesity epidemic and prevent related health issues. One recent survey based in Ireland on various brands of energy drinks said that 500 ml of Rockstar Xdurance contains 17 teaspoons of sugar, Monster has 14 teaspoons and the popular Red Bull is made with 7 teaspoons. 

Despite these warnings, superpowers like the U.S. and France pay no heed, while only increasing the prosperity of the markets since there are no rules against sale and promotion of energy drinks. The 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends restricting added sugar consumption to no more than 12 teaspoons a day. 

Should America Follow Suit ?

The WHO report published in the Frontiers in Public Health also highlighted a few reasons why the U.S. should follow in the footsteps of countries taking a stand against sugary drinks and stop marketing them to children. Especially since 17 percent of adolescents and children are obese in the U.S., as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Energy Drinks Teenagers who consume energy drinks are at a higher risk to substance abuse. Getty Images

Today, type 2 diabetes is also affecting children equally, as much as adults. The prevalence rate has risen from 5 percent to 20 percent among children. Coping with the disease takes a financial toll on children and parents as well. Eight diseases that come as a result of obesity, some of which include Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and dementia, add up to 75 percent of total health care costs in the U.S. 

The rise in caffeine content is one of the reasons behind the hike in obesity rates, and the Food and Drug Administration had tried to tackle this problem before, but to no avail. Mixing caffeinated drinks with alcohol is considered unsafe too. The FDA had warned in 2010 that caffeine should not be added to alcohol. 

Even the Federal Trade Commission had issued notices to manufacturers to stop the practice of marketing alcoholic drinks with caffeine, which caused adverse consequences. This measure should be followed more stringently since women’s safety is a matter of concern in U.S. colleges, as one study had found. 

College students who mixed alcohol and energy drinks were more at risk of suffering adverse consequences than students who simply had alcohol. The dangerous consequences were more situational than health-related. These included accompanying an intoxicated driver on the road, indulging in inappropriate sexual conduct and getting physically hurt. A similar study said that U.S. military personnel who had consumed energy drinks were more likely to attempt suicide than those who did not. 

To curb this issue and prevent more people from suffering these side effects, the WHO recommends that regulatory agencies should enforce stricter rules for marketing energy drinks. The lack of regulation leads to aggressive marketing campaigns aimed at young males and children, who are more vulnerable to receiving such messages. 

“Policies should ensure that health-care providers are equipped to educate families and children at risk on the potential consequences of excessive energy drink consumption and recognize the features of caffeine intoxication, withdrawal, and dependence,” the report stated.