Soft drink consumption in Pacific Island countries and territories: a review of trade data

Type Journal Article - Pac Health Dialog
Title Soft drink consumption in Pacific Island countries and territories: a review of trade data
Volume 20
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Page numbers 59-66
Pacific Islands Countries and Territories (PICTs) have some of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the world. Research has demonstrated a strong link between sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption and subsequent risk of overweight, obesity, dental caries and type II diabetes. To address the impact of SSBs on noncommunicable diseases, it is crucial to understand the level of SSB consumption in PICTs.

The volume of soft drinks imported and exported was requested from PICTs to estimate the litres of soft drink consumption per head of population. Analysis was confined to PICTs who did not produce their own soft drinks because production data was limited. The Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) category 22.02 was used which includes both diet and sugar-sweetened soft drinks. The trade data estimates were then compared with school survey data to explore how the data sources corresponded given the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Soft drink import volumes were a feasible way of estimating total soft drink consumption in PICTs and look at trends over time. Seven out of eleven non-producing PICTs contacted were able to provide volume of soft drinks imported. In 2011, estimates of soft drink consumption per person were 84L in Palau, 47L in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), 41L in Niue, 31L in Tonga, 22L in Federates States of Micronesia, 8L in Tuvalu and 1L in Kiribati.

Trade data is a feasible way of monitoring soft drink consumption and may be useful to evaluate the impact of changes in government policy on importation of soft drinks. Data quality could be maximised by including export data, adjusting for visitor numbers and cross-checking exports from corresponding countries. To monitor SSB consumption, a wider range of categories could be included such as categories for sugar-sweetened juice and sweetened-milk drinks.

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