In an online post, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China has suggested that over-indulgence in fizzy drinks has led to a higher level of failed physical tests among new recruits. In a statement last week directed at potential recruits, the PLA has advised against consumption of sugary drinks and alcohol. This proposal was part of a longer list that urged potential recruits to exercise more, spend less time in front of screens and develop better sleeping habits.

This advice was among other slightly less orthodox health suggestions, such as cutting down on computer games as some candidates were failing the physical examination due to abnormalities relating to sitting down too much. Despite garnering widespread mockery on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, this advice has come at a time when there is a focus in Asia on sugar consumption. This month seven major soft drinks manufacturers in Singapore, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé, have agreed to reduce the sugar content in their drinks to 12% or lower by 2020. This pledge seems to be the first in Asia in which a national health regulator has received such commitment from the largest players.  Additionally the South-East Asian state of Brunei is implementing a sugar tax on drinks this year in an effort to control excessive consumption.

The focus on sugary drinks can be linked to the fact that diabetes is becoming an increasingly serious concern for health authorities in many countries across Asia. China reportedly has high levels of childhood obesity, which is reflected in the PLA’s claim that in one Chinese city, which witnessed 59.9% of its new army recruits failing their initial fitness tests, one in five were rejected for being overweight. The PLA’s health advice has a resonance that travels beyond the scope of the military and its struggle to recruit healthy candidates. It underlines the growing issue China is facing around obesity and diabetes.

Related report

Still Drinks (Soft Drinks) Market in Asia-Pacific – Outlook to 2020: Market Size, Growth and Forecast Analytics