February 22, 2024

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War on Diabetes: Singapore Beverages Graded for Health Impact

War on Diabetes: Singapore Beverages Graded for Health Impact

War on Diabetes: Singapore Beverages Graded for Health Impact.  Singapore’s Beverages to Be Fully Surrounded by Grading Labels.

Starting this Saturday, December 30th, Singapore’s year-old beverage grading policy is set to further expand its coverage, marking the latest move by the local government to “rescue” a significant portion of the population at risk of falling into the throes of diabetes. In essence, with the new policy in place, most beverages available to Singaporeans will fall under this grading system.



From the War on Diabetes to the War on Sugary Drinks:

As a backdrop to this policy, according to data from the International Diabetes Federation, Singapore has an adult diabetes prevalence rate as high as 14.9%, making diabetes prevention a crucial policy in the country. In a cross-country comparison, China has an adult prevalence rate of 13%, and Japan has 11.8%.

In a speech at the end of 2021, Singapore’s Minister of Health, Gan Kim Yong, warned that one-third of the country’s population is at constant risk of developing diabetes. For aging Singapore, individuals developing diabetes due to poor lifestyle habits would impose a significant burden on the healthcare system and public finances.

Therefore, in this “War on Diabetes,” Singapore has initially targeted sugary drinks.

According to research by Singapore’s health authorities, the average Singaporean consumes 12 teaspoons (58 grams) of sugar daily, with over half of it coming from sugary drinks. Within this category, 64% of sugar intake is from pre-packaged beverages, while the remaining 36% is from beverages prepared on-site.

In response, the Singapore government has introduced a “Nutrient Grading System” aimed at warning consumers through visual cues.

This system includes only two variables: sugar content per 100 grams and saturated fat content per 100 grams. In simple terms, sugar content below 1 gram is rated as A, 1-5 grams as B, 5-10 grams as C, and above 10 grams as D. Simultaneously, the higher the saturated fat content, the lower the grade.


War on Diabetes: Singapore Beverages Graded for Health Impact


According to Singapore’s government regulations, products rated as C and D must be prominently displayed on beverage packaging and product display pages, while D-rated products are prohibited from advertising. Since the end of last year, pre-packaged beverages in retail supermarkets have adhered to these rules. Starting this Saturday, on-site prepared beverages will also fall under these regulations, with businesses required to specify the sugar content variations resulting from different add-ins (ice cream, pearls).


War on Diabetes: Singapore Beverages Graded for Health Impact


To protect small and micro-enterprises, Singapore’s Ministry of Health has stipulated that small beverage operators (with turnover less than SGD 1 million in the previous fiscal year and supplying food at fewer than 10 locations) are temporarily exempt from these rules.

Similar to before, businesses found in violation of the rules for the first time will face fines of up to SGD 1,000, with subsequent offenses carrying a maximum penalty of SGD 2,000 each.


Unintended Consequences of the Policy:

As this rule approaches its one-year mark, market attention has shifted from the “grading labels'” misleading nature to the commercial impact.

The misleading aspect of the grading system arises from its simplistic combination of sugar and fat content into a single standard, meaning all full-fat milk—naturally containing lactose—falls into the mandatory warning grade of C (full-fat milk).

Undeniably, within the same category of beverages, higher grades generally align with better health outcomes.

During the period when the new rules applied to pre-packaged beverages, many international beverage manufacturers cautioned that redesigning packaging or employing people to attach grading stickers would be an economically impractical business move for many beverages imported into Singapore. Consequently, to avoid complications, several products simply ceased export to Singapore.

War on Diabetes: Singapore Beverages Graded for Health Impact

(source:internet, reference only)

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