Friday, January 30, 2009
SUGAR destroys the body in many ways_planting disease,eroding health and ultimately shortening our lives.In short,sugar kills. Sugar is basic element found in starchy food.The refined white sugar,which we generally refer to using the term "sugar" is industrially processed and really not suitable for human consumption. It is devoid of nutrients.It is addictive and has been called "the most dangerous white powder known to man" Malaysian are reported to be among the highest consumers of sugars in Southeast Asia.In the 1970s,Malaysians consumed about 17 teaspoons of sugar a day.This figure went up to about 21 teaspoons a day in the 1980s.Now malaysian are reported to be consuming an average of 25 teaspoon of sugar per day. The general guideline on sugar consumption is that it should be from 0 to 10 teaspoon a day. Ideally, Malaysian should be targeting the lower end of the range. Over 60 ailments have been linked to sugar consumption,including obesity,diabetes,heart disease,canser,asthma,and allergies. Some of this killer diseases are showing worrying upward trends in just a few years. Take, for example, diabetes.It has already reached alarming proportions in the country. Diabetes type 2 is strongly linked to high sugar consumption and obesity. In the 1st National Health and morbidity Survey(in 1986), the prevalence of diabetes was 6.3 per cent.Ten years later, this figure increased to 8.3 per cent. Now based on the latest NHMS II conducted in 2006,diabetes prevalence has increased to 14.8 per cent. Most people find it hard to believe or accept that they can be consuming an average of 24 teaspoons of sugar a day.That is because we may thinking only of the "visible" white sugar we see and buy for use at home.However,an increasing amount of sugar consumed by the public is in industrially prepared drinks and food. Some soft drinks contain an average of at least 7 teaspoons of sugar per can.CAP surveys noted a number of the commercial drinks and food contained over 10 teaspoons of sugar in just one serving.Consumers are often unaware of how much sugar they consume in total in a day. Urgent action needs to be taken to curb our national sugar consumption.In view of the alarming situation.CAP calls on the government to: -Work with the manufacturers to reduce sugar content in their products -Require manufactures to amend their labels to clearly depict the amount of sugar in food To ensure that this information is understood by consumers, the sugar content could be shown graphically in terms of numbers of teaspoons of sugar.( One teaspoon is approximately equivalent to 5 g -Institute "traffic light"labelling to enhance consumers awareness.This has been effective in enabling consumers to assess the significance of nutrients levels within a particular product, and allows for comparison between products.Under this scheme,red, orange and green colour coding would indicate whether the levels of these ingredients of concern are high,medium or low.The presence of the red,orange or green signals on food packaging would serve as instant notice for consumers-even children or those with the limited nutritional knowledge or numerical skills would easily be able to comprehend these signals. -Bring to a halt the advertisements of highly sugared and other junk food and drinks during children's television viewing hours. - Educate school children on the dangers of excessive sugar intake through health education,home science and cooking lessons.Educate the public on the danger of sugars intake through the media. -Encourage the children to avoid sweet drinks in schools by providing drinking water in water dispensers around school premises.Sweet drinks should not be sold in canteen so that children learn to select water as a first-choice drink. -Have total ban on the sale of junk food in school canteens and ban food hawking within a fixed perimeter around schools so that schoolchildren are not tempted to purchase unhealthy food. -Initiate the removal of vending machines dispensing junk food and sugary drinks from areas such as hospitals,airports and schools. S.M MOHAMED IDRIS for Consumers Association of Penang.