Food industry must be force behind war on sugar

It is heartening to know that the Ministry of Health is declaring war on diabetes ("MOH to wage war on diabetes"; April 14) and that there is increasingly more consumer interest in sugar substitutes ("Are artificial sweeteners a good substitute?" by Mr Colin Ong Tau Shien; last Friday).

Negative public opinion on sugar has risen significantly, as the amount of scientific research linking it with obesity and tooth decay has increased.

Sugar has become Public Enemy No. 1 and is seen as a health risk.

The sugar backlash is driving changes in consumer trends.

Consumers have become more health-conscious, pay closer attention to food labels, prefer natural foods, and tend to avoid products high in added and refined sugars.

The food industry has to understand this in order to increase market share and drive profits.

Food manufacturers are reducing the sugar content in their products, and are working to develop sweetener solutions and to reformulate products.

The Government can be the tip of the spear, but the food industry has to be the driving force behind the shift towards a healthier Singapore - by providing the consumer with greater access to healthier food products.

Saw Lin Kiat (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2016, with the headline 'Food industry must be force behind war on sugar'. Print Edition | Subscribe