Plain water is key in diabetes war

Water should be the first choice of beverage because it contains no carbohydrates or calories. PHOTO: ST FILE
Water should be the first choice of beverage because it contains no carbohydrates or calories. PHOTO: ST FILEPHOTO: ST FILE

I believe that imposing sugar taxes should be the last resort. Prior to that, we need to explore other measures to cut sugar intake (Sugar tax to change behaviour, not boost revenues; Jan 20).

Sugar is not the only cause of diabetes. There are other risk factors in people's lifestyle that raise the odds of having diabetes.

Among the four proposed measures from the Ministry of Health, banning the sale of higher sugar pre-packaged drinks is effective. Banning advertisements, mandatory nutrition labelling and taxing manufacturers are passive restraints. They do not effectively reduce risks from other sources like eating processed meat, high-fat daily products and sweets.

Higher prices for pre-packaged sugar drinks do not help the low-income groups and office workers because they have few alternatives apart from buying expensive bottled water or sweet beverages in eating places.

To fight diabetes, public education is necessary to explain how to keep obesity and diabetes at bay, via multimedia platforms.

We should promote consuming plain water.

Water should be the first choice of beverage because it contains no carbohydrates or calories.

Perhaps it is necessary to progressively introduce the mandatory installation of drinking fountains at public places and hawker centres to encourage people to switch.

Most people would switch when plain water is readily available.

For the long-term good of Singapore, it is worthwhile for the Ministry of Health and the food industry to sacrifice some profits to provide drinking fountains to boost healthy living.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2019, with the headline 'Plain water is key in diabetes war'. Print Edition | Subscribe