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Turkey eyes less sugar in chocolates, other food

BUSRA (AA): The Health Ministry of Turkey, in cooperation with the Federation of the Food and Drink Industry Associations of Turkey (TGDF), released the “Sugar Reduction Guide” this week. The publication will serve as a guideline for the industry to gradually reduce the amount of sugar in chocolate, candies, wafers, sweet sauces, breakfast cereals and nonalcoholic drinks by 10% until 2025. The ministry and industry representatives had signed a protocol last year on the issue.

Fatih Kara, head of the Health Ministry’s General Directorate of Public Health, recently told an online meeting of sector representatives that the reduction of sugar would have a positive impact in preventing obesity. “Nutrition plays a role both in obesity and other noninfectious diseases. Scientific studies show that excessive consumption of sugar and sugar-added food may cause cardiovascular diseases, some cancer types, diabetes and metabolical problems, and reducing sugar consumption is recommended,” he said.

Kara pointed to a 2017 study conducted in Turkey that showed the obesity frequency was 31.5% in people aged 15 and above and gave the rate of the “inactive” population – those with a sedentary lifestyle with little to no physical exercise – at 42.4%. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a limit of 5 to 10 teaspoons of sugars per day and urges reducing free sugar intake to under 10% of physical calories, which is equivalent to 50 grams of sugar per day.

The guide includes recommendations to reduce the amount of sugar in packaged products, as well as its use in restaurants, cafes and other eateries. TGDF Deputy Director Rint Akyüz said they previously cooperated with the Health Ministry to reduce salt intake and their next step was voluntarily reducing sugar in food products.

“This is something that needs significant investment in research, development and innovation. We are prioritizing public health and believe in stopping excessive consumption that runs parallel with a sedentary lifestyle,” Akyüz said.