There is growing concern in the Czech Republic that obesity rates could soon top 20 percent of the population.
Increasing awareness of the problem has caused a widespread influx of “healthy” fruit juices made with purified milk instead of sugar, which began to appear across the country just months ago.
Health experts at clinics in Prague were surprised by the sudden rush of patients trying to avoid the added sugar from popular flavors such as passion fruit, strawberry or pear.
There are fewer late night bingeers and more of the sobering bemoans of people before they log onto the internet and find out that eating juices has been linked to diabetes, heart problems and mental illness.
So far, the bottled fruit juices are marketed only as having just skimmed milk and packed with potassium and calcium, and still contain levels of sugar that exceed the government’s recommended intake.
The rising popularity of juices has caused a headache for the Czech government, however, as Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who just narrowly escaped corruption charges, has repeatedly criticized the proposal to sell “sustainably-produced” healthy juices.
His party, the ANO, is opposed to “corrupt” businesses like Coca-Cola and says the drinks are too expensive for most Czechs.
The Czech health authorities recently stated in its policy report that reducing intake of unhealthy foods and drinks could prevent more than 5.5 million illnesses every year and prevent more than 82,000 premature deaths.
The health report said that moderate weight loss of just 5 kg (11 pounds) could prevent hundreds of diseases and give the country a better life expectancy.
Now, Europe’s food giants are set to throw a significant financial and promotional spanner in the works.
On May 25th, the government will publish a draft ban on the sale of sodas, fruit juices and other sugary drinks in public places.
The ban could take effect as early as 2019.
It is only the latest in a series of moves by the Czech government to crack down on heavy industry, which has an over-inflated power in politics since 2011.