Help people fall out of love with white rice

While the long-term ill effects of white rice and its cousin - white bread - are well known, these are key staples eaten at almost every meal in Singapore ("Hooked on white rice, but some ready to change diet"; May 6, and "War on diabetes: Sugar tax a sweet idea"; May 5).

Healthier versions of bread, such as wholemeal and multigrain ones, are widely available in supermarkets, restaurants and cafes.

But the same cannot be said of rice.

In hawker centres and food courts, a consumer is hard-pressed to find a stall that truly offers a healthier choice of brown rice or a mixed variant.

While some stalls do offer pumpkin rice or yam rice, these are still based on white rice.

Food sellers should be encouraged or made to offer a healthier variant in their rice-related dishes.

Perhaps celebrity chefs can come up with interesting recipes using brown rice. There can also be a cooking competition centred on brown rice.

A reduction in tax for brown rice would make it even more affordable for businesses and individuals to adopt.

At the same time, white rice packaging or advertisements should incorporate slogans like "Choose brown rice, the healthier choice" to create awareness.

Given that many of us love our white rice, it will take time to wean people off it. We need to make people fall in love with brown rice as well.

It is imperative that we swing into action fast to avert a colossal bill arising from diabetes in the future.

Felix Kim Heok Eng