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Informed public is best weapon against diabetes

23 Jan 2019

Malnutrition is a problem often perceived to be linked to food shortages, but many people do not realise that it can also be caused by excessive consumption of empty calories, such as from sugar.

Singapore has already adopted a range of measures when it comes to managing sugar consumption, including prohibiting the sale of beverages with excessive amounts of sugar in schools and public sector buildings, and introducing the Healthier Choice symbol to highlight products with lower levels of sugar.

But the measures recently proposed by the Ministry of Health, in particular the excise tax on pre-packaged sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and a complete ban on SSBs with excessively high amounts of sugar, have received criticism for being too draconian.

Given the increasing magnitude of malnutrition and diabetes, it is unlikely that the general population’s eating habits will improve without major policy interventions. There is no quick fix that can address sugar consumption at the nationwide level, and Dean, Professor Teo Yik Ying, shares how we can all play our part in the fight.

While government mandates (including taxes and bans) can regulate and change both industry and individual behaviours, individuals should still shoulder the responsibility for what they put in their bodies.

More importantly, reversing the tide requires an educated public who understand the benefits of a balanced diet and active lifestyle.

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