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Proposed measures to reduce sugar intake from pre-packaged drinks

05 Dec 2018

(Image from Pexels. Photo by Breakingpic)

On Tuesday (4 December), the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) proposed new measures to reduce sugar intake from pre-packaged, sugar-sweetened beverages, as part of Singapore’s War on Diabetes.

From 4 December 2018 to 25 January 2019, MOH and HPB will be conducting a public consultation to seek feedback on four proposed measures:

  1. A nationwide ban on the sale of higher-sugar, pre-packaged beverages,
  2. A tax on manufacturers and importers of such beverages,
  3. Extended advertising regulations for these beverages beyond the current voluntary guidelines, and
  4. Mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labels to help consumers identify healthier and less healthy options.

Dean, Professor Teo Yik Ying, said that the proposed measures are not mutually exclusive and are meant to complement each other. He added that such taxes are aimed not at consumers, but to incentivise the industry to reduce the sugar content to avoid the tax.

“Any reduction in sugar intake will directly translate to health benefits. The key to getting people to take less sugar is education. If people want healthier versions, manufacturers will provide them,” added Prof Teo.

Domain Leader (Epidemiology), Professor Rob van Dam, said the high sugar content in drinks adds calories but does not make people feel sated, which makes it worse than sugar in food.

“People should be told the rationale of these measures in terms of the importance for health and providing clear information on the amount of sugar in available beverages. Restricting advertisements of high-sugar drinks is important as these tend to appeal to children who are less able to distinguish between factual information and advertisements,” added Prof van Dam.

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