Cut the sugar, reduce health risk


Sugar is a commonly used ingredient in many recipes for a variety of foods and drinks that many Malaysians love.

Frequent consumption of foods and drinks high in sugar will result in excessive intake of calories. If these extra calories are not “burned” up in the body through physical activities, the person is said to be in positive energy balance.

However, there is nothing positive about this condition, as the excess energy is deposited as fat in the body.

This situation can easily lead to weight gain and obesity, both of which are recognized risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as type 2 diabetes and coronary heart diseases.

World Health Organization (WHO) also strongly recommends that the intake of free sugars (i.e. Both added sugars and sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juice and fruit juice concentrate) be limited to less than 10% of a person’s total energy intake.

This recommendation applies to both adults and children.

Maximum daily sugar intake from all foods and drinks should not exceed 180kcal.

What this means in terms of the amount of sugar is not more than nine teaspoons or 45 grams of sugar per day.

If a child consumes a can of soft drink or a piece of chocolate cake he would have reached the maximum recommended daily sugar intake.

Watch out for sugary traps

For instance, you can look for the amount of sugars in the nutrition information panel (NIP) of all ready-to-drink beverages. For other pre-packaged foods, you may not be able to find the sugar content on the NIP as it is not required by law at this time.

 An alternative way to gauge the amount of sugar in pre-packaged foods is to look at the ingredient list. Any added sugars should be listed here.

There are many names for added sugars, such as sucrose, brown sugar, corn syrup, fructose, maltose,

There is also other information on the food label that can guide you in looking for lower sugar content products. Look for claims on the label that say “lower sugar” or “free of sugar”. However, you need to be wary if a claim says “no sugar added” as the product can still have a high amount of naturally occurring sugar!

 Reducing intake of sugar-rich foods and beverages is an important step to get you started on living a healthy lifestyle.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Eat less sugary foods – Choose cakes or other sweet desserts with less sugar.Simply eat less of such cakes, sweet desserts. Substitute these with fresh fruits instead.

  • Eat foods that are NOT sugar-rich more frequently.

  • Avoid eating sugar-rich foods between meals or close to bedtime.

  • When buying pre-packaged foods, check the ingredients list – bear in mind that the ingredients are always listed in order starting from the largest quantity used. Thus, if sugar is one of the first few items listed, that means the food or drink is high in sugar.

  • Limit the use of sugar and sweetened condensed milk/filled milk when you make your own drinks – just one teaspoon per cup will do.

  • Avoid drinking sugar-rich beverages between meals or close to bedtime.


Source: Several Health Magazines /  Webs