Constructing public health policies in post crisis countries: lessons to learn from the associations between free-sugars consumption and diabetes, obesity and dental caries before, during and after sanctions in Iraq.
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Z Gesundh Wiss
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BACKGROUND: This article aims to provide evidence for an informed public health policy on free-sugar consumption in post-crisis countries. METHODS: Iraq was selected as a case study. A systematic search for published data on the prevalence/incidence of type-2 diabetes, overweight/obesity, dental caries and free-sugar consumption levels in Iraq was conducted using MEDLINE, the Iraqi Academic Scientific journals and relevant international organisations' websites. Comparable data before (1980-1990), during (1991-2002) and after (2003-2015) the United Nations sanctions (UNS) were included. RESULTS: Ten studies were included. Quality scores ranged between 3 and 7/8. Free-sugar consumption decreased dramatically during the UNS (from 50 to 16.3 kg/person/year) and started increasing afterwards (24.1 kg/person/year). Changes in type-2 diabetes, overweight/obesity and caries levels mirrored those of free-sugar consumption. Caries declined markedly during UNS and started increasing afterwards. Comparable data on diabetes and overweight/obesity were only available for the periods during and after the UNS. Both of these conditions started increasing with increased free-sugar consumption after lifting the UNS. CONCLUSIONS: There is a need to develop a public health policy in post-crisis countries to maintain the reduction in free-sugar consumption, and hence promote both general and dental health, by integrating the common risk factor approach into the social determinant framework.