Health ministry implementing various initiatives under sugar reduction advocacy plan

29 Oct 2023 05:42pm
Picture for illustrative purposes - 123RF
Picture for illustrative purposes - 123RF
PUTRAJAYA - Various initiatives have been taken under the Sugar Reduction Advocacy Plan to ensure that messages related to sugar and its impact on health can be shared widely.

Health Minister Dr. Zaliha Mustafa said the plan, which also includes the 'Reduce Sugar Campaign,' aims to increase awareness among Malaysians about excessive sugar intake and in turn, control daily sugar intake.

"This plan also includes a campaign to reduce sugar for food stall operators who sell drinks in food courts throughout Putrajaya.

"I was made to understand that all drink operators at food courts in Putrajaya have agreed to use only one teaspoon of sugar for each drink ordered,” she said during the national launch of the Reduce Sugar Campaign 2023 here today.

Her speech text was read by Health Ministry (MoH) deputy secretary-general (Management) Datuk Zainal Alhakab Seman.

Dr Zaliha said some drink operators had long undertaken the sugar reduction initiative.

She praised them for their efforts and mentioned a few names, including the Precinct 16 Food Court and the food courts in Precinct 8, Precinct 9, Precinct 11, Laman Perdana Precinct 1, Laman Duta Precinct 15 and Putrajaya Food Truck operators.

"I hope the same effort can be emulated elsewhere as well. State authorities are also expected to implement sugar reduction efforts at the state level, focusing on beverage vendors at stalls and food courts with the cooperation of their local authorities,” she said.

Dr Zaliha said excessive sugar intake can lead to various health problems such as weight gain and obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and the risk of other non-communicable diseases.
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"Most of us are unaware that high-sugar foods and beverages are among the main contributors to weight gain.

"The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that sugar intake should be less than 10 per cent of an individual's daily calorie requirement.

"If an individual's requirement is 1,500 calories a day, then that person should not consume more than 7.5 teaspoons of sugar a day, including sugar taken in cakes, snacks, and other food and beverages,” she said.

She said Malaysians must be aware of the foods and drinks they consume, especially those that are pre-cooked or pre-packaged because many sweetened drinks for sale contain high sugar levels, including carbonated drinks, cordials or syrups, and sweetened drinks made from tea and coffee.

Dr Zaliha said studies have shown a link between excessive sugar intake and various diseases.

The increasing number of patients would place a significant burden on the country's economy and finances, she said, as the cost of treating diabetes alone reached RM4.38 billion a year in 2017, compared to RM2.04 billion in 2011, directly affecting the country's workforce productivity level - BERNAMA