Sugar tax may cause problems in other areas

There have been calls for a sugar tax to combat the growing incidence of diabetes in Singapore ("War on diabetes: Sugar tax a sweet idea"; May 5, and "Can taxman extract Asia's sweet tooth?"; May 8).

However, its implementation will cause a host of other problems.

First, there are many food items that contain sugar. Does it then mean that all these items will be taxed based on their sugar content?

If this is the case, it will not force a change in eating patterns but merely increase the overall cost of living.

Second, it may cause people to eat less sugar, below the recommended consumption levels, resulting in other illnesses.

Third, eating certain types of food in the way they were originally prepared (sugar is used in many Chinese dishes, for instance) is part of our heritage. Hence, forcing a change in our eating habits could result in the loss of our food culture, which runs against our effort to preserve our hawker food heritage.

Lastly, the sugar tax may result in the closure of certain industries, such as sugar production, soft drink production and even rice production. This will affect the livelihood of many people and the overall economy.

A better approach would be to educate the public on the dangers of high levels of sugar consumption and to encourage moderation.

A sugar tax will solve only the immediate problem but may affect many other areas in the long term.

Leong Kok Seng