Diabetes prevention through higher taxes?

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Better diabetes prevention and therapy are required

The massive increase in diabetes is not only a problem for those affected, but will lead to considerable financial bottlenecks in the healthcare system in the coming decades. Experts warn that the health system will go bankrupt if the rise in diabetes continues.

For this reason, doctors and politicians called for a panel discussion last week to kick off the "Patient Journey" campaign in Berlin, a kind of national action plan, with advertising bans, higher taxes and clearer labeling of food, as well as increased awareness-raising campaigns about the risks and prevention options for diabetes.

Lack of exercise and unhealthy nutrition as a risk factor for diabetes Lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet are the main risk factors for diabetes and are held responsible for the fact that hundreds of people in Germany develop new diabetes every day. A total of 700 new cases are diagnosed in Germany every day, which by 2030 would mean a close doubling of diabetes patients from around 7.5 million to over 14 million, according to the experts at the start of the "Patient Journey" campaign in Berlin . The Berlin Charité and the pharmaceutical company Lilly initiated the campaign to improve the treatment of diabetes patients on the one hand and to address prevention options on the other. At several events, diabetes experts and politicians will discuss prevention and therapeutic approaches as part of the campaign. With regard to diabetes therapy, the main question was which treatment could be used to prevent more serious health consequences of diabetes, such as a heart attack, stroke, blindness, foot amputations or kidney failure, the participants of the panel discussion last week explained. Another problem that the “patient journey” campaign will address is that the experts named the training of the number of diabetologists that will be required in the future.

Prevention options against diabetes With regard to the possible preventive measures against diabetes, the participants in the panel discussion took a number of different approaches, ranging from advertising bans to so-called traffic lights or banishing lemonades from schools to higher taxes and a national action plan. As reported by the "Ärzte Zeitung", the health policy spokesman for the CDU parliamentary group, Jens Spahn, spoke out in the context of the discussion about addressing a lack of exercise and unhealthy nutrition as well as the associated problem of overweight in general and in this way also addressing diabetes Improve prevention. Spahn cited Finland as a positive example, where politics and industry had worked together to reduce the salt content in food in order to lower the general risk of high blood pressure and stroke. This had been achieved in Finland within ten years. For example, Spahn asked the "players in the federal and state governments" as well as industry and companies to develop a national concept for exercise and healthy nutrition together with the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA).

Traffic light labeling of food required The spokeswoman for consumer policy in the parliamentary group of Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen, Nicole Maisch, criticized the fact that none of the approaches described can be found in the Federal Government's current food policy. Maisch once again campaigned for the so-called traffic light labeling of food, which consumers could use to read the sugar, fat, salt and calorie content of the food relatively easily. However, this solution was prevented by the CDU, FDP and industry. The consumer spokeswoman for the Greens also massively criticized the current labeling of food. "With today's binding GDA labeling, I could write the information on it in Finnish, no one understands it," said Maisch. There are actually "many approaches that cost nothing, but we are not ambitious enough", emphasized Nicole Maisch.

Diabetes experts disappointed by politics The diabetologist Professor Thomas Danne from Hanover from the board of the German Diabetes Aid “diabetesDE” comes to a similar assessment. The expert emphasized that he was “mercilessly disappointed with politics” and that the topic of the social gradient was neglected in the current discussion. Because "higher earners" usually know "how to prevent obesity and diabetes, but the others can't do it," explained Prof. Danne. The diabetologist therefore campaigned for the taxation of particularly sugary foods in order to reduce their consumption and to protect people from the consequences of unhealthy eating. Furthermore, a restriction of advertising, especially for so-called children's food, was urgently needed.

Problem with unhealthy children's food The problem with the special children's food had only been brought up again at the beginning of the month by the consumer organization Foodwatch and pointed out that "the range of children's food nutritionally corresponds to the opposite of" what nutrition experts recommend for a balanced diet of children. " In the market check carried out by Foodwatch, all products specially made for children were too greasy, too sweet or contained too many artificial flavors, according to the consumer advocates. In addition, the children would be lured with elaborate advertising campaigns in order to "program (as) as early as possible on unhealthy junk food", because this would make considerably more money than fruit or vegetables, emphasized Anne Markwardt from the Foodwatch consumer organization.

Quality standards for school lunches and expansion of school sports required In order to remedy the lack of exercise among adolescents, Prof. Danne requested one hour of school sports every day. In this way, the school could ensure that the children move enough in any case. According to the expert, nutrition can also be influenced within the school. Here, certain quality standards for school catering would have to be met and at the school kiosks or in the cafeterias a ban on the sale of sugary lemonades should apply, the expert emphasized. The diabetologist sees opportunities not only in schools for improved diabetes prevention, but also in companies. However, according to the President of the Association of German Company and Company Doctors e.V., Dr. Wolfgang Panter, a clear goal.

Diabetes prevention in companies In principle, Dr. Wolfgang Panter claims to present campaigns to prevent overweight among the trainees or the entire workforce, but if the company doctors organize something here, reimbursement by health insurance companies often becomes a problem, since the parties involved are insured with various health insurance companies. According to the expert, a comprehensive campaign comparable to that for non-smoker protection is required to achieve sustainable success. Like the unhealthy diet today, smoking had been completely accepted for many years and there was even a smoking corner in the schoolyards. “20 years ago I got a bloody nose from non-smoking protection in companies. With today's regulations, we already have ten percent fewer smokers in the company, ”emphasized Dr. Panter. (fp)

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