More sugar-free options needed at local eateries

It is heartening to see the Government talking about plans to tackle diabetes, and that efforts will extend to the region, preventing it from being a massive issue for Asia (Decisive action needed to fight diabetes, says Gan; Nov 28).

Tackling it before it becomes a disease is vital. But it is time to get into the details to ensure success.

A quick rummage through a supermarket shows that it is extremely difficult to find any coffee or tea mix that comes without sugar.

The iced lemon tea sold in supermarkets and fast food outlets contain sugar by default. Access to sugar-free drinks is limited to expensive eateries.

Many dishes sold in hawker centres contain significant amounts of sugar, and brown rice costs more than white rice.

A more detailed look into promoting sugar-free options must be undertaken, and this involves educating all stakeholders from consumers to the sellers.

We have come a long way in providing a smoke-free environment, and the same tenacity and long-term approach must be undertaken for any effort to take root.

At the clinical level, we must also change the mentality of disease sufferers.

Right now, some people think that if they increase their dosage of medicine, they are free to eat whatever they like.

For example, some people take an extra dose of their cholesterol medicine and proceed to eat extra oily food.

We have to advocate healthy alternatives that show people they can still enjoy food in a smart and healthy manner.

Changing the mindset of consumers is a long journey, but persuading individuals to look out for themselves will make the greatest change.

This will work hand in hand with making healthy alternatives available in local eateries.

Peter Loon Seng Chee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2018, with the headline 'More sugar-free options needed at local eateries'. Print Edition | Subscribe