Obesity costs the country €36 million annually

Malta is regarded as being one of the main countries in the EU with the highest rate of obesity. This results in the greater direct and indirect expenditure on medicines and greater hospital delays when the condition of a person is also amalgamated with obesity. Statistics covering 2016 show obesity cost the country €36 million.

David Xuereb, the President of the Chamber of Commerce, explained that this is why food products classed as being “healthy” cost more because the demands for these is less than that of the demand for ‘burgers and pizzas. Thus, it is consumer demand that ascertains the price. This creates a vicious circle because prices influence the choice of products.

A few months ago discussions began on the possibility of taxing products containing sugar but the Chamber did not agree with this. During ‘Popolin’ Xuereb explained the Chamber’s decision was based on results in other countries where this measure had been implemented. He believes the aim should be for more educational funds regarding the problem and not be increasing taxation. He said that persons who do not understand the effects of sugar will still purchase these products that contain sugar. Therefore this is not a solution to the problem but is creating a further problem of having to pay greater taxes.

Nutritionist Glorianne Busuttil spoke on the importance of eating all but in moderation. If one feels like eating something sweet there is no need to never eat anything sweet but occasionally and this should be linked to physical exercising. She explained that the Directorate for the Promotion of Health offers a free-of-charge online programme for those wishing to reduce weight and are aged over 18.

Therese Micallef, a physiotherapist and social worker, spoke of the importance of persons taking a decision to determine a healthy life for themselves and their family members. This will lead to obesity reduction.