Singapore

Poll: Most people support ban on sugary drinks

As the authorities mull over measures to help people cut their sugar intake, what do Singaporeans think is the best way to curb a sweet tooth?

An online poll of The Straits Times readers shows a total ban on pre-packed high-sugar drinks was the top pick.

This is among four measures mooted by the Health Ministry and nearly 40 per cent (719 people) of about 1,900 people polled chose it.

The poll began on Tuesday evening, after the MOH and the Health Promotion Board began a public consultation exercise on ways to curtail the consumption of sugary drinks.

These include three-in-one mixes, cordials, yogurt drinks, fruit juices and soft drinks.

These drinks account for more than half the 12 teaspoons of sugar that people here take each day on average.

And one in four packaged sweetened beverages contain 5.5 teaspoons of sugar or more.

The poll shows the second most-popular measure is imposing mandatory front-of-pack labelling on high-sugar drinks.

As of 4pm yesterday, 676 people believed that is the way to go.

The third choice of introducing a tax on sweet pre-packed drinks, which would primarily affect manufacturers and importers, was chosen by 310 people.

A tax could coax the industry to lower the sugar content of products, similar to the excise duty imposed in Britain, Mexico and some US cities, as well as in Brunei and Thailand.

The least popular option, with 233 votes, is banning advertisements on all platforms, such as on buses or social media.

Existing guidelines only limit advertising during specific time periods on TV and media channels.

Facebook user Travis Lin said consumer education is key.

"Educate people so that they can make informed decisions. I don't drink any sugary drinks or even fruit juice. That's my choice."

Mr S. P. Low, an engineering company manager, said a total ban on high-sugar drinks is "too extreme".

People should be given a choice of a range of drinks of various sugar levels, added the 42-year-old.

"Ultimately, you should let the consumer choose what they want."

The Health Ministry said every 250ml of sugar-sweetened beverages consumed daily raises a person's risk of getting diabetes by 18 per cent to 26 per cent.

MEDICAL & HEALTH