“If we provide cheaper, less expensive access to this type of product for the population, not only are we allowing the choice to be made easier in relation to their financial availability, but we are also educating the population, because we are demonstrating to them that, for example, these foods without assigned VAT are the ones that should be included in your meals”, defended Liliana Sousa.

The head of nutritionists spoke to the Lusa agency regarding a study released by the Directorate-General for Health (DGS), according to which inadequate nutrition and excess weight (including obesity) are among the factors that most determine the burden of disease of the Portuguese.

“They are among the main determinants of the loss of years of healthy life among Portuguese people, contributing, respectively, to 8.3% and 7.5% of total deaths in Portugal in 2021”, says the DGS, which is part of the Global Burden Disease Study, an international study, coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which aims to provide estimates of the causes of the global burden of disease, as well as the burden of disease attributed to different risk factors (88 risk factors) in 204 countries.

For the president, these results “are frightening” and should deserve “reflection” and a “fundamental strategy”, with measures that go beyond those that have been taken to tax less healthy products, namely sugary drinks.

According to the study, the high consumption of red meat, processed meats, and salt, as well as the insufficient consumption of whole grains, fruit, and vegetables were the inadequate eating behaviours that most contributed to the Portuguese living fewer years in health in 2021.

“In addition to inadequate nutrition and excess weight, other health determinants, indirectly related to the way we eat – such as high plasma glucose and high blood pressure – are considered the main responsible in Portugal for the emergence of diseases such as diabetes, neoplasms and cardiovascular and renal diseases and associated mortality”, highlights the DGS.