High sugar levels in desserts like sweet soups linked to rise in diabetes in Hong Kong

Sweet potato soup was second in terms of highest sugar content among the 10 most common sweet soups in the study.
Sweet potato soup was second in terms of highest sugar content among the 10 most common sweet soups in the study. PHOTO: ST FILE

HONG KONG - Excessive amounts of sugar in popular desserts might have added to the rise of diabetes in Hong Kong, said consumer watchdog Consumer Council.

Mango sago dessert with pomelo proved to have the highest average sugar content of 11g of sugar per 100g, according to tests by the council and the Centre for Food Safety, reported South China Morning Post in October 2016.

This means that a 330g serving of the dessert would exceed the recommended daily sugar intake of 25g set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Sweet potato soup came in second among the 10 most common sweet soups in the study. It had an average sugar content of 10g per 100g of the dessert.

Soybean curd dessert is a relatively healthier option with an average of less than 4g per 100g.

Dr Samuel Yeung, principal medical officer at the Centre for Food Safety, said consuming excessive sugar can result in excessive weight and obesity. These increase the risk of developing diabetes.

"Besides providing energy, sugar really does not have too much nutritional value," Dr Yeung said.

"Our study also found that there are sweet soups with less sugar on the market," he said. "So it is not impossible to make sweet soups delicious but with less sugar."

He proposed that the authorities and restaurants set sugar reduction targets - such as setting a maximum level of sugar that can be added in desserts.

He said mango sago dessert with pomelo is particularly high in sugar content because it is served in generous portions.

Dr Chan Yee-shing, vice-president of the Hong Kong Medical Association, also said the ubiquity of sweet soup has contributed to the rise of diabetes.

"In Chinese medicine, sweet soups are considered very nourishing," Dr Chan said. "Many people who are unaware of their diabetic condition consume a lot of sweet soup."

He also recommended that people just have mango instead of mango sweet soups.

"As opposed to the simple sugar we consume in sweet soups, sugars in fruits have a more complex structure, which gives the body a longer time to process them," he said.

The WHO recommends a sugar intake of below 5 per cent of your daily energy intake.That means a person who needs 1800kcal of energy daily should consume less than 6 teaspoons of sugar (about 25g).