According to the 2019 report of the National Programme for the Promotion of Healthy Food (PNPAS), in 2018, each Portuguese citizen consumed on aveerage 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.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of State for Health has announced that there has been a welcome reduction in the number of children that suffer from obesity in the country.
Raquel Duarte has welcomed the news, but she warns that even though numbers have decreased, work needs to continue as the country has to look at “threats such as regional asymmetries and the increase in prevalence with age,” saying that even though the country has excellent results “we must not rest our laurels.”
These figures were released recently by the data collected by COSI Portugal 2019, the nutritional surveillance system for school-age children (six to eight years old) which have indicated a consistent reduction in the last decade of the prevalence of childhood obesity in Portugal.
The latest figures collected by COSI have shown that 40 percent of teenagers drink soft drinks daily, and more than half have consumed below the recommended level of fruit and vegetables.
“Education is not enough. We need to work together, the municipalities have to create parks, so children can play in the streets and schools need to promote physical activities,” she adds.
The data has shown that between 2008 and 2019, the prevalence of childhood excess weight dropped from 37.9 percent to 29.6 percent and children’s obesity levels fell from 15.3 percent to 12.0 percent in Portugal, a figure that has helped the country improve on the table of European states participating in the WHO/Europe Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI).
The Azores is the region with the highest prevalence’s of overweight children, with one in three children being above the recommended weight.
“The DGS is extremely committed to this issue and two of our priorities are to encourage people to engage in more physical activity and to eat more healthy foods,” said Graca Freitas, the Portuguese director of general health, who highlighted the collaboration between entities for the realisation of the COSI Portugal 2019.