Drive health improvements by being a smart consumer

I find it hugely disconcerting that the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health says 34 per cent of people aged 24 to 35 this year can expect to be diabetic by the time they are 65, based on projections ("Rising obesity among young set to worsen diabetes rate"; Feb 22).

Having also read that a survey in Britain found that some hot drinks served in cafe and fast-food chains contain up to 25 teaspoons of sugar ("Beware the sugar content in your favourite drink"; Feb 20), I wonder why we find such trends surprising.

It is clear that large food and drink manufacturers and retailers are not taking the long-term health of their customers seriously.

Are customers provided with enough information to make the right choices at the point of sale?

I would be very surprised if anyone in his right mind would order a drink containing 25 teaspoons of sugar, should he be advised of this in the first place.

There is a clear link between the developed world's increasing consumption of carbohydrates and sugar and the increasing rates of obesity and diabetes.

While it is down to the individual to make the right choice, it is still wrong to provide a product which is so clearly bad for people's health and not provide a clear warning, as is the case with cigarettes.

The cost of the increasing rates of chronic illness in Singapore will be borne by us all, not to mention the dreadful impact on families.

At the moment, it seems that the media and health organisations are highlighting the risks, but the large corporations are doing little to change their ways.

In the absence of dramatic change by these companies, individuals must educate themselves and vote with their wallets.

Check nutrition labels, choose healthy, low-sugar products. Let us try to drive health improvements by being smart customers.

Matt Pasterfield

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2016, with the headline 'Drive health improvements by being a smart consumer'. Print Edition | Subscribe