In a recent interview, Zsofia Pusztai, the Regional Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Czech Republic, highlighted the high tolerance Czechs have for alcohol consumption. She emphasized the need for the state to focus more on preventive measures, whether concerning excessive alcohol consumption or the fight against rising childhood obesity.
Pusztai strongly advocates for the taxation of sugary drinks, a topic of intense debate in the country. While the tax hasn’t necessarily resulted in increased state revenues in most countries, it has led to an immediate reduction in the sugar content in drinks by the industry, effectively avoiding the tax. This, in turn, aligns with the WHO’s covert goal.
She also mentioned the ongoing debate about introducing an excise tax on still wine. She noted that the discussion isn’t just about taxes but also about accessibility, marketing, and influencing the behavior of young people. The consumption of alcohol is a part of Czech culture, but the long-term effects of drinking are well known.
Speaking on childhood obesity, Pusztai believes the government can do a lot to address this global epidemic, which is primarily associated with unhealthy eating and low levels of physical activity. However, the problem is not just with children’s behavior but also societal factors like social status and inequality.
Lastly, Pusztai expressed concern over the increasing mental health issues in society. Although there is greater openness about it now than ten years ago, stigmatization persists. She also highlighted the importance of climate change and air quality, which directly affect everyone’s health, and the need for health literacy.