SINGAPORE - When taxi driver Song Hee Pheow was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago, it came as a shock.
His family had no history of diabetes and the 65-year-old thought it was unlikely he would be stricken with it.
"I thought to myself, it couldn't be, I didn't believe it. I thought maybe it was what I ate in the last few days," Mr Song told The Straits Times in Mandarin.
That initial diagnosis, at a health check-up for cabbies by the Health Promotion Board and ComfortDelGro, was confirmed by a subsequent check-up at a polyclinic.
Mr Song took immediate action.
He cut out soft drinks and eats a much smaller amount of white rice, and more fish and vegetables these days.
"I used to drink two cans of soft drink at one go and when I went home for dinner, I would eat a big bowl of white rice," he said.
To keep his blood sugar low, he now also climbs the stairs to his taxi at the multi-storey carpark instead of taking the lift.
In six months, Mr Song lost 4kg, and his doctor said his blood sugar levels are good.
Mr Song's turnaround tale was narrated by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally on Sunday (Aug 20).
PM Lee, who made a clarion call to fight the scourge of diabetes, 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," said the Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, Mr Song is glad his blood sugar levels are under control.
"Diabetes is serious as 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 said of what he has learnt since being diagnosed with diabetes.
He also said the lifestyle changes he has had to make are difficult but has paid off handsomely.
This was echoed by PM Lee, who said when encouraging people to make healthier choices: "The payoff is large, and it can be done."