Sugar used to be king in Jamaica many centuries ago. The cultivation of sugar cane was a staple among many areas on the island. Even though times have changed, you can still see the impact that sugar has had on our lifestyle.
Popularity of Sugar
Jamaicans have always loved using sugar in their preparation of a variety of food. In fact most households have sugar even if they run low on other supplies.
Along with every meal, most Jamaicans enjoy a sweet drink then a sugary dessert. This dependence on sugar is seen in how popular sugary drinks are in most restaurants and supermarkets. There are often more varieties of sugary drinks than vegetables and fruits.
Sugar and children
This sugar addiction starts early as even young children are offered ‘sweets’ as a way to reward them for good behaviour. A quick check at schools reveal that many of their menu options have large amounts of sugar.
In some cases the popular bag juice and box drinks that the children consume daily do not even show how high the concentration of sugar is in the products. However it is important to note that after water, sugar is the next listed ingredient in these drinks.
I looked at a box drink that I was drinking and realized that although it did not state how much sugar it contained, it was so sweet that I had to dilute it with water. I saw my son drinking the same type of box drink and asked him if it needed water as mine did. His response was that the drink was just right. This shows that over a period of time our children get so used to drinking sugary drinks that they won’t be able to appreciate when it is too sweet.
Ban on Sugary Drinks
The government has realized the catastrophic effects of sugar on the diet of our young people and so has decided to ban the sale of sugary drinks at school.
The ban will be in effect the beginning of 2019. How will this affect students? Well they will no longer be able to buy drinks that contain sugar or syrup that is added by the manufacturer at their school. They will be encouraged to drink water or drinks with a lower sugar content.
This is a very admirable gesture however I foresee that it might not go far enough to solve the sugar epidemic. Students can still purchase drinks with a high sugar content before coming to school or on the way home.
Parents therefore need to be educated about the health risks of drinking so much sugar on a daily basis. The onset of diabetes, obesity and other health concerns should prompt any caring parents to make the necessary adjustments to ensure the safety of their children.
It would be a good idea to eliminate excessive sugary drinks from our supermarket shelves so that consumers are not tempted to buy them and allow their children to have access to these drinks.
So what’s your take?
Do you think the ban on sugary drinks is enough or do we need to go further? Let me hear from you!
Teri Ann Renee Paisley
Gleaner online writer