Portugal: Consumption of soft drinks, sugar falling

According to the 2019 report of the National Programme for the Promotion of Healthy Food (PNPAS), published on Monday, each Portuguese consumed last year 60 litres of soft drinks, equivalent to 3.3 kilograms of sugar.

This is lower than consumption for 2017 (75 litres, equivalent to 4.4kg of sugar) when the tax on these beverages was first introduced.

The report says that the reduction in the amount of sugar ingested is related both to a change in consumption habits and to the reformulation of the products.

“Since the introduction of the tax, there has been a shift from consumption of beverages with higher sugar contents (80 grs /litre) to beverages with lower amounts”.

The average calorific content in soft drinks fell from 31 calories to 27.5 calories per 100 ml in 2016-17. In 2018, the trend continued, reaching 26.4 calories per 100 ml.

“The reduction in calorie content between 2016 and 2018 was most noticeable in lemon-lime drinks (- 35%), fizzy juices (- 22%) and energy / sports drinks (-11%)”.

The report stated that inappropriate eating habits by the Portuguese are one of the main factors in the loss of healthy life years and that obesity is one of the most serious public health problems.

However, preliminary data from last week’s Child Nutrition Surveillance System (COSI Portugal 2019), show that the prevalence of overweight children between 2008 and 2019 fell from 37.9% to 29.6% while the prevalence of obesity in children in Portugal, fell from 15.3% to 12.0%.

According to COSI Portugal 2019, the prevalence of childhood obesity has increased with age, with 15.3% of children aged eight years obese, including 5.4% with severe obesity. In children aged six, 10.8% are obese (2.7% severe obesity).

COSI Portugal 2019 which assessed 7,210 children from 228 schools in mainland Portugal, Azores and Madeira also revealed one in every three children in the Azores to be overweight.