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WHO stops the sale of sugary drinks in its cafeteria

Walking the talk: WHO takes a bold step to stop the sale and service of sugary drinks in its cafeteria

MANILA, 13 October 2016 – Ministers of health and delegates from Member States were offered healthier drink options this week at the sixty-seventh session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for the Western Pacific.

The WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific has discontinued the sale and service of sugary drinks, citing their links to obesity, tooth decay and related health-care costs in the Region. Sodas, energy drinks, fruit juices, flavoured milk and powdered/instant drink products have been taken off the shelves.

"I want to create an environment that makes healthier decisions easier in people's lives, whether it is at worksites or other places in the community," said Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.

The WHO guideline on sugars intake for adults and children recommends no more than six teaspoons (25 grams) of sugar per day for maximum health benefits. A typical can of soda contains around 8.5 teaspoons of sugar, and an equivalent serving of fruit juice has around 9.5 teaspoons.

As part of a regional programme to promote healthy diets, interventions include restricting the sale and marketing of unhealthy foods and non-alcoholic beverages, especially in school settings, taxing sugar-sweetened beverages, implementing a regional nutrient profile model and raising public awareness.

WHO encourages all health ministries, agencies and facilities throughout the Western Pacific Region to remove sugary drinks from their cafeterias, to ‘walk the talk’ and to be role models for their governments and society.

WHO has developed healthy snack and meal guidelines for its meetings and events. The Regional Office now has more water dispensers and provides unsweetened drink options like fresh coconut water and brewed teas.

The sixty-seventh session of the Regional Committee was declared a “healthy meeting” by the Chair, Yb Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam, Minister of Health, Malaysia. In addition to healthy food, participants were encouraged to dance during mobility breaks.

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