Forum: Programmes in place to reduce sugar intake from foods and drinks

We thank Mr Yusoff Abdul Latiff for his feedback (Have guidelines for eateries on use of sugar, Nov 17).

On sugar intake, the 2018 National Nutrition Survey found that on average, Singaporeans consumed 12 teaspoons (60g) of sugar daily, an amount which exceeds the recommended daily allowance of no more than 10 teaspoons (50g) of sugar.

With the key source of the sugar intake from sugar-sweetened beverages addressed by measures to be implemented - mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labels and advertising prohibitions - other efforts are in place to lower Singaporeans' consumption of sugar in other areas.

This includes making healthier options more available in eateries, hawker centres and coffee shops, where the Health Promotion Board (HPB) works with restaurants and stall owners, under the Healthier Dining Programme, to offer healthier items on their menu.

The programme provides guidelines on what qualify as healthier options, including criteria on sugar for foods and beverages. For example, one serving of a healthier mee rebus dish offered by our Healthier Dining Programme partners contains an average of one teaspoon of sugar, which is 50 per cent less sugar compared with the normal sugar levels in mee rebus. To highlight these healthier options to consumers, visual identifiers are tagged to the items in menus or on menu boards, or the identifiers are carried on stall fronts. Currently, more than half the stalls across all hawker centres and coffee shops have at least one healthier option on their menus.

At the same time, to encourage consumers themselves to reduce their sugar intake from sugary foods and drinks, HPB continues with public education and campaigns to raise awareness on the health dangers of consuming too much sugar and the sources of hidden sugar. This is coupled with initiatives to nudge behaviours such as the Eat, Drink, Shop Healthy Challenge, where Singaporeans are incentivised to make healthier choices.

We encourage Singaporeans to reduce their intake of all types of sugars, whether added or natural, and to consume all food and drinks in moderation. HPB will continue our efforts to educate and encourage consumers to make the right food choices, and work with the food services sector to increase the availability of healthier options.

Joanna Chan

Group Director, Programmes

Health Promotion Board