Educating youth on ills of sugar more effective than imposing tax

The rising number of diabetics is indeed a cause for concern in our nation, but I do not think that a tax on sugary drinks is the best way forward (Sugar tax, more access to water to help curb diabetes; June 19).

For one thing, the tax will have an impact on socio-economic equity because it will most likely include cheap sweetened beverages and syrups commonly used by lower-income groups; even a slight increase in prices would harm them disproportionately.

This becomes a problem if the sweetened beverages, for example malted drinks, play an integral part in filling the bellies of these families.

Accessibility to cheaper alternatives could also influence the effectiveness of a sugar tax.

The "fat tax" implemented in Denmark in 2011 was eventually abolished after it emerged that the Danes were crossing the border to Germany to purchase unhealthy snacks that cost less.

Similarly, Singaporeans could easily bypass the tax on sugary drinks by crossing the Causeway to purchase such products.

Singaporeans could easily bypass the tax on sugary drinks by crossing the Causeway to purchase such products... Nurturing students to become informed consumers is a far more effective long-term measure towards improving the health of Singaporeans.

Instead of implementing a tax, I propose that the Government intensify education campaigns in schools to educate students on the harms of consuming too much sugar.

Nurturing students to become informed consumers is a far more effective long-term measure towards improving the health of Singaporeans.

Tan Xinyi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2018, with the headline 'Educating youth on ills of sugar more effective than imposing tax'. Print Edition | Subscribe