Mon, Oct 14, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Limits on sugary beverages for civil servants criticized

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

The “advice” against providing sugary beverages, using government funds, to workers in government bodies, issued by the Executive Yuan following the suggestion of the Health Promotion Administration (HPA), has sparked controversy and complaints.

Government agencies received an official notice from the Executive Yuan at the end of last month advising them to refrain from providing drinks containing sugar to their staff at meetings or to attendees at government-sponsored events.

The move has annoyed some, saying the government is exceeding its authority.

The agency explained yesterday that it is not restricting civil servants’ from purchasing sugary drinks at their own expense, but is suggesting government agencies avoid providing unhealthy drinks “with public funds.”

It further emphasized that the announcement was made only to “advise” the government.

Unhealthy diet, obesity and physical inactivity have increased incidences of colon cancer, breast cancer and death from heart diseases, the administration said, adding that civil servants often have to sit for long periods, which increases their risk of cancer, heart diseases, obesity and diabetes.

The agency said it is for this reason that it had suggested at the briefing on cancer prevention that the government “purchase healthily” to help prevent civil servants from being exposed to health-compromising food products and meals without choice.

Meanwhile, HPA Director-General Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞) talked about redefining the “value” of global healthcare delivery.

The value of healthcare delivery is the sum of the positive impact on the population health per unit of input, Chiou said yesterday.

“In other words, it is the ‘scope’ that matters,” she said.

Nineteen percent of the population smoke and many are overweight, Chiou said, citing the importance of health promotion as a way to prevent disease.

“People tend to view commonly seen unhealthy substances nonchalantly, but panic over rarely seen ‘toxic’ starch. However, everyday sugary drinks have strong empirical evidence showing potential harm to human health,” she said.

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