War on diabetes

National Day Rally 2017: Diabetic cabby improves his health

Mr Song Hee Pheow doing exercises with help from his health coach.
Mr Song Hee Pheow doing exercises with help from his health coach.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

When taxi driver Song Hee Pheow found out he had diabetes three years ago, the diagnosis came as a shock and a surprise.

His family had no history of diabetes, and the 65-year-old had thought it was unlikely he would come down with the disease.

"I thought it couldn't be, I didn't believe it - I thought maybe it was what I ate over the last few days," Mr Song told The Straits Times in Mandarin.

He took action after a subsequent polyclinic check-up confirmed that initial diagnosis at a health check-up for cabbies by the Health Promotion Board and ComfortDelGro.

He cut out soft drinks, and eats a much smaller amount of white rice, and more fish and vegetables.

"I used to drink two cans of soft drink at one go... and when I went home for dinner, I used to eat a big bowl of white rice," he said.

In addition, he now climbs the stairs to his taxi at the multi-storey carpark instead of taking the lift.

Because of those lifestyle changes, Mr Song has lost 4kg in six months, and his doctor said his blood sugar levels are good.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong related Mr Song's turnaround tale during the National Day Rally last night, as he issued a clarion call to fight the scourge of diabetes.

Mr Lee urged Singaporeans to eat healthily, exercise more and go for health check-ups. "If Mr Song can do it, each one of us can do it too," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Song is glad his blood sugar levels are under control. He said: "Diabetes is serious, it can lead to things like amputations. People need to take care of their bodies, and diet is one of the most important things."

He added that these lifestyle changes are difficult, but will bring handsome benefits in future.

It was a similar message to Mr Lee's, who said: "The payoff is large, and it can be done."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2017, with the headline 'Diabetic cabby improves his health'. Print Edition | Subscribe