Ensure water is readily available in public places

I agree with Dr George Wong Seow Choon that we must do more to deter people from consuming sugar-laden food and beverages ("Gearing up for war on diabetes"; April 15).

I have witnessed the ravages diabetes has wrought on my father-in-law.

A diabetic for many years, he is an amputee and is now on thrice-weekly dialysis because of kidney failure.

My mother-in-law is his caregiver, and it is an exhausting full-time job taking care of his mobility issues, monitoring his health and driving him to dialysis sessions.

My father-in-law has rued his younger days, when he paid scant regard to his nascent diabetes and continued to indulge in heavily sweetened desserts and beverages. He now regularly warns us against consuming too much sugar.

Though it may not be practical to tax all food containing sugar or its constituents, we should, as suggested by Dr Wong, take the first step in having a sugar tax on sweetened beverages, which are commonly consumed. The amount of tax should be in proportion to the amount of sugar added.

I have a bottle of water with me each time I go out. But for long excursions, it is not feasible to lug a few bottles of water around.

We should ensure that all public places such as outdoor facilities and places of interest are equipped with water dispensers at convenient and accessible locations, such as outside restrooms, for us to slake our thirst ("Fighting diabetes: Why the target is white rice"; May 12).

Eating places such as hawker centres and coffee shops should also have water dispensers available for diners. It would also be more convenient if each stall could provide water for their customers when they order their food. Restaurants should not levy extra charges for water.

Supermarkets can display sweetened beverages less prominently than those with little or no sugar added. The same goes for sweets and other sugary food, to make it less enticing to children.

Parents should set a good example to their children by consuming non-sweetened drinks and not using sweets or sugary treats as rewards.

With a little help, a low-sugar diet can be our default preference.

Maria Loh Mun Foong (Ms)