At the age of 23, Zainab Mukhtar lost her husband, a 51-year-old type 2 diabetic patient, who battled the condition for eight years until he died in 2019.
Describing how excessive intake of sweetened beverages worsened her husband’s condition and led to his eventual death, Zainab said he was specifically addicted to soft and some energy drinks.
“It was after I married him that I realised he had type 2 diabetes and was also addicted to cola drinks. Although he knew he had diabetes, he never stopped taking such drinks. I fought hard, but he never listened. I reported to his doctor and my parents, but he never listened to any of them. I believe that worsened his health condition and led to his death in 2019,” she said.
In Africa, diabetes has claimed about 416,000 lives as at 2021, with at least 24 million people living with the disease, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), an umbrella organisation of over 240 diabetes associations in 160 countries and territories.
The IDF states that the disease has also claimed the lives of at least 48,375 Nigerians as at 2021, and revealed in its 10th edition, Atlas Report, that as at 2021, about 3.6million people, aged between 20 and 79 years live with diabetes in Nigeria.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that Nigeria was ranked as the fourth market in the world with the biggest consumers of soft drinks. The United States of America (USA), China and Mexico ranked number one, two and three respectively, according to the 2016 global soft drinks market analysis.
It was, therefore, in an effort to control obesity, which is a risk factor to diabetes and other diseases that the federal government in 2022 adopted the sugary drinks tax by adding N10 per litre tax on all carbonated sugar drinks and beverages. The government’s introduction of the “sugar tax” in the Financial Act 2021, according to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, was to discourage the excessive consumption of sweetened beverages, which she claimed contributed to obesity, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.
For Zainab, the quest to stop her husband’s addiction with sugar sweetened drinks was a difficult task. She said, “I have never seen someone so addicted to sugar sweetened drinks like him. Although he knew he had diabetes, he never stopped taking soft drinks. I fought hard, but he never listened,” she said.
Like Zainab’s late husband, Alhaji Muhammad Aliyu, another diabetic patient, said he had renal kidney failure in 2015 and believes it had connection to excessive sugar intake, specifically from soft drinks. Even after battling for survival through hemodialysis, Muhammad said he was told he needed a kidney transplant.
“My kidneys failed and I know that it is connected to my excessive intake of soft drinks, energy drinks, which I was later informed are high in caffeine,” he said.
Mohammed, who, until his kidney failure, consumed one or two bottles of soft drinks and an energy drink to keep him alert for late night official work, said he now knows better. He explained that since his kidney transplant in India in 2013, he had not taken a sip of any carbonated sugar beverage.
“I am on life medication; I have grown old now, so I need to look after my health, no matter what,” he said. (DailyTrust)