HomeHealth For YouMulti-pronged approach to reduce sugar intake from sugar-sweetened beverages

Multi-pronged approach to reduce sugar intake from sugar-sweetened beverages

On 4 December 2018, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) announced a jointly conducted public consultation, taking place from 4 December 2018 to 25 January 2019, to seek views from the public and key stakeholders on the possible measures to reduce Singaporeans’ sugar intake from pre-packaged sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).

High sugar intake is linked to increased risk of obesity and diabetes. A 2018 local review that included studies on Asian populations found that every additional 250ml serving of SSBs daily increases individuals’ risk of diabetes by as much as 26 per cent. The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on countries to take action to reduce individuals’ intake of sugar to as low as possible, stating that “nutritionally, people do not need any sugar in their diet”.

However, Singaporeans are consuming on average twelve teaspoons (or 60g) of sugar daily. More than half of Singaporeans’ daily sugar intake comes from SSBs, of which pre-packaged SSBs contribute 64 per cent of this intake. More pre-packaged SSBs are consumed per person per day in Singapore than in many other Asian jurisdictions.

Globally and regionally, a growing number of countries have adopted a combination of measures to reduce sugar intake from SSBs and maximise their public health impact. These measures include front-of-pack nutrition labelling, advertising regulations, reducing availability of sugary foods and drinks in schools and public institutions, as well as excise duties on SSBs.

The public consultation aims to seek views on four possible measures (below), which are not mutually exclusive, towards pre-packaged SSBs, with the aim to accelerate industry reformulation to reduce sugar levels in pre-packaged SSBs, and empower Singaporeans to make informed and healthier choices:

  1. Mandatory front-of-pack nutrition label;
  2. Advertising regulations;
  3. Excise duty on manufacturers and importers; and
  4. Ban on higher-sugar pre-packaged SSBs.

In response to MOH’s public consultation, this document provides a summary of the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health’s recommendation for a multi-pronged approach with a combination of regulatory measures, accompanying public education on the rationale for these measures, and clear and consistent definitions and communications on categories of SSBs across the measures. It also calls for a pre-implementation period of advocacy to help build greater public awareness, providing lead time for industry’s preparation and engagement on the issue, and post-implementation mechanisms to periodically review implementation issues faced and scientifically evaluate the measures’ effectiveness.

Click here to read ‘Response to the Ministry of Health’s Public Consultation on Measures to Reduce Sugar Intake from Pre-Packaged Sugar Sweetened Beverages’.

 

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