All you need to know about diabetes and high-sugar drinks in Singapore
If you are new to Southeast Asia, one of the first regional health problems to keep in mind is the high level of diabetes. It results from the region’s eating habits which often involve high levels of sugar consumption. Singapore is by no means an exception to this trend. As the country’s population is rapidly aging, health problems are also becoming more common, and surely, the overconsumption of sugar by residents in the Lion City’s isn’t helping.
In this article by Pacific Prime Singapore, we will explore the ‘sugar problem’ in Singapore, the Singaporean government’s response, and go over the health problems associated with high-sugar intake.
High-sugar drinks in Singapore
In 2018, the Singaporean Ministry of Health reported that Singaporeans consume on average 12 teaspoons (60g) of sugar daily, double the amount recommended by the WHO. Sugar-sweetened beverages remain a significant contributor to Singapore’s heavy sugar consumption levels, accounting for about half of the total average sugar intake per person.
Singaporean government’s response
To tackle this problem, the Singaporean government has declared an unprecedented plan to implement a total ban on ads for packaged drinks with high sugar content levels. Furthermore, beverages with medium to high sugar content will be labeled as unhealthy on top of its packaging.
This isn’t the Singaporean government’s first attempt to lower sugar consumption levels in the city-state. In 2017, the government reported that it had come to an agreement with soft-drink makers in the city to reduce the level of sugar content in beverages being sold to the public.
However, the move to impose an ad ban on high-sugar drinks takes Singapore’s ‘war on diabetes’ to the next level, making it the world’s first country to implement similar advertising regulations on high-sugar drinks as those imposed on cigarettes and alcohol.
In response, the Coca-Cola Company, the world’s biggest sweet beverage maker, said it welcomed the plans and will cooperate with the Singaporean government to lower the sugar levels in its drinks sold in Singapore.
Health problems from high sugar intake
While death by sugar doesn’t sound so intimidating, the sweet-tasting ingredient can cause a myriad of health problems, such as diabetes, a disease in which your blood glucose levels are too high.
In 2014, 440,000 Singaporean suffered from diabetes, and this number is estimated to reach 1 million by 2050. Having high blood sugar levels for prolonged periods of time can lead to serious health problems, including:
- Heart diseases: High blood glucose can damage your blood vessels and nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. This can lead to diabetic heart diseases, such as diabetic cardiomyopathy, coronary heart disease, and heart failure.
- Eyes: Diabetic retinopathy damages the blood vessels inside your retina, leading to symptoms, such as blurry vision, rings or blank spots in your vision, pain or pressure in your eyes, and trouble seeing things out in the corner of your eyes.
- Kidneys: Diabetes is among the most common causes of kidney failure. Having high blood glucose levels can damage part of the kidneys that filters your blood. If the damage becomes severe, it can lead to symptoms, such as weight loss, poor appetite, muscle cramps, tiredness, and swollen ankles and feet.
- Nerves: High blood sugar levels can lead to nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy. Symptoms may include numbness in your limbs, nausea, diarrhea, urinary problems, shooting pains or tingling in different parts of the body, and problems with sexual function.
Treatments in Singapore
Treatments for diabetes in Singapore can be expensive, especially in private hospitals that are geared for expats. It is estimated that the cost per working-age person for treating diabetes stood at $7,678 in 2010.
Given the rapid appreciation of Singapore’s healthcare cost, it is no wonder that by 2050, experts from the National University of Singapore and the University of Southern California estimated that diabetes’ treatment costs would shoot up to $10,596 per diabetic person in Singapore.
Moreover, as we can see, diabetes can lead to many other health problems, ranging from heart disease to nerve damage. This will lead to additional treatment costs, potentially putting a real dent in your savings.
If you are currently moving to Singapore, or are thinking of relocating to the city, then keep in mind that there is always a risk of developing diabetes, thanks to the wide variety of sweet beverages and food available.
Get protection from high medical costs
To get your health risks covered, you should consider getting private health insurance in Singapore or family health insurance. If you have a family history of diabetes, or already suffer from the disease, you should also consider getting insurance plans that cover pre-existing conditions as well as hospitalizations.
One way you can find the most price-competitive insurance plans in Singapore is through talking to an insurance broker, such as Pacific Prime, where we partner with the top health insurers to offer you the best individual health insurance package which caters to your personal needs.
In his free time, Phuwit enjoys reading and playing badminton. He also loves a good cup of coffee.
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