• Spectrum of Life

Sugar & Health - Part 1

Do you know that Malaysians are the 8th largest sugar consumers in the world? The data showed that Malaysians consumed 26 teaspoons (one teaspoon is equivalent to 5gm) per day on average.

The current society are aware of the importance of being healthy and eating healthy. However, knowing and doing it could be something that is very different, or we shall say, it is very challenging. The busy life that most people are now facing, with daily work tasks, with the traffic jams that occurred daily, health could be the one that being neglected the most. For most people, reality and dreams sound really far apart.

Do you know that Malaysians are the 8th largest sugar consumers in the world? The data showed that Malaysians consumed 26 teaspoons (one teaspoon is equivalent to 5gm) per day on average. Back to 1970s, Malaysians consumed about 17 teaspoons of sugar a day instead. It indicates that the figure increased around 50% over decades, so do you think that we are having healthy diets?

As stated in the World Health Organization journals, not even an ounce (approximately 28.35gm) of sugar is necessary in our diet. For the reason that sugar has been linked to over 60 ailments such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart problems, osteoporosis, kidney problems or even asthma and allergies. The upward trends in some of these killer diseases are seen in recent years. From the statistics provided by Ministry of Health, 11.6 million of the 16 million adults nationwide suffered from non-communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension or cancer.

Nevertheless, sugar is still a very commonly eaten nutrient-free food that is never being seen as a dangerous substance even it relates to the factors of developing and/or worsening an individual’s health condition. It is hard to believe or accept the facts that we consumed an average of 26 teaspoons of sugar a day, as we could only think of the “visible” sugar that we added to our drinks and food, despite of those contained in the “prepared” drinks and food. A 300ml can drink can contain an average of at least 7 teaspoons of sugar or even up to 10 teaspoons of sugar per serving, hence, consumers are often unaware of how much sugar they consume in a day. Some may argue about having drinks or food with “lesser sugar amount” or so-called “without sugar”. Thinking about sugar is not a necessity in our diet, drinks or food that contain sugar should be avoided.

In order to slash your sugar intake, it is important to:

1) Educate yourself and people around you, especially your kids about the dangers of excessive sugar intake and encourage healthy diet at home and even eating out. When cutting down sugary drink and food becomes a habit, it is easier for your kid and yourselves to adapt to low sugar diet.

2) If possible, grab more natural and fresh food instead of industrially-prepared and processed drink and food.

3) If you are a working adult and you have to grab some readily made food, read the nutrition information on the packaging. Avoid product that contains high carbohydrate amount (22.5gm or more per 100gm).

4) Know the ingredients of the product. Added sugar can be listed as sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, fruit juice, molasses, hydrolysed starch, invert sugar, corn syrup, and/or honey.

To find out the list and knowing how much sugar that most of the products in the market contained, do check out at http://www.consumer.org.my/index.php/homepage/slideshow/437-sugar

If you are interested to know more about how sugar is ruining your health, do check this page out! http://www.rheumatic.org/sugar.htm

Have you ever wonder why people crave for sugar, and even get addicted to it?

Stay tuned for the Part 2!

By: Ms Vernice Si Toh - SOL Psychologist

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