Sugar intake

Recommended level in Singapore too high

It was stated that the maximum recommended sugar intake for an average Singaporean is 11 teaspoons a day (How much sugar are you drinking?; Aug 23).

The Health Promotion Board's (HPB's) My Healthy Plate website says to limit the daily intake of added sugar to between eight and 11 teaspoons, equivalent to 40g to 55g of sugar. This is too high a level and should be reduced.

The World Health Organisation's (WHO's) recommended level is roughly six teaspoons of sugar or about 25g a day.

In March 2015, the WHO guideline recommended that adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10 per cent of their total energy intake and that a further reduction to below 5 per cent or roughly 25g (6 teaspoons) would provide additional health benefits.

Free sugars are simple sugars added to foods by the manufacturer or consumer. They are also sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices.

Much of the sugar in our daily diet is also hidden in processed foods in the form of high fructose corn syrup, maltose and dextrose.

These conceal large amounts of added sugars.

For example, 1 tablespoon of ketchup contains around 4g of sugar.

The HPB's My Healthy Plate website also recommends snacks such as wholegrain corn tortilla chips and wholewheat crackers and biscuits.

These are refined carbohydrates which have had most of the nutrition and fibre removed, and eating excessive amounts of these foods has been linked to obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

We should be recommending the elimination or, at the very least, reduction of refined carbohydrates such as cakes, cookies, biscuits, pastries and muffins and replace them with carbohydrates in their natural whole unprocessed forms such as eggplant, kale, spinach, carrots, broccoli, peas, tomatoes, asparagus, cabbage, zucchini, cauliflower, avocados, lettuce, cucumbers and watercress.

Genevieve Chua Kwee Huay (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2017, with the headline 'Recommended level in Singapore too high'. Print Edition | Subscribe