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todayonline - 9 days ago

Tax, ban on sugary drinks: Why not tackle other unhealthy food, habits in fight against diabetes?

On the proposed sugar tax and ban on high-sugar drinks, for which the Government is having a public consultation, several readers said that a blanket ban is too much and there are other types of food and drink that are unhealthy and contribute to diabetes aside from sugar. Please ban high sugar drinks. Kids love buying them from 7-11 and convenience stores after a hot day. Bad, bad, bad! SAM LOWELL Tax is the way to go. Can generate revenue for the Government and can reduce sugar intake of citizens. Win-win situation. DARYL TAN Do what you want to reduce sugar intake, but don’t use it as a means of income by taxing the manufacturer. In the end, consumer will be indirectly paying for the tax. CLARENCE TAY With the tax, all those coffee shops and food outlets will seize on this opportunity to increase their coffee and food prices. MATTHEW YANG Bottom line: Taxation in cases like this is just a way to profit from addiction. As with tobacco, all you need to do to raise more revenue is to increase taxation incrementally over time… Of course, I may be cynical and all the extra taxation income might be used for healthcare, but I doubt it. RAVI SAMUEL Sugar consumption is an individual’s choice. It s all about education on the potential sicknesses associated with sugar. The tax will have very little impact on consumption. YONG NGUAN LIM Then this tax should also be extended to polished rice, processed flour, noodles and breads, packet snacks, cheap chocolates, ice-cream and so on, since consumed over time, they would all contribute to diabetes. VASU DEV Not forgetting there are also food-and-beverage outlets that are selling sugar-overloaded desserts and drinks. JESS THIA How about canned fruits such as lychee, longan, pineapples? Are our source of happiness and indulgence being forced off the supermarket shelves? LENIN TAN Ban fast food, too... stupid “upsize” business trend. KAYAL VILLI Fast-food chains which promote these drinks in collaboration with manufacturers also need to be streamlined, to promote healthy food. KA GANESAMOORTHY It s all about how you control yourself... not controlling the products. ROSLAN RABIAN Our Government is really trying too hard to act like our parents. If sugar lovers want to get their sugar fix, they can always cross the Causeway and buy back cartons of cheap Coke. Are they going to start checking luggage and car boot for soft drinks now? JOANNE LIM Why control our diet? Is there a need to ban? If sugary drinks are harmful and need to be banned, why not ban cigarettes and alcoholic beverages that are also harmful to health? SHEN MEILING LYN You mean healthy people can’t drink sweet stuff? The sugary drink tax doesn t fix the problem. People are getting fatter because they are not exercising enough! ALEXANDER CK SNG If you want to have a sugary drink tax, then for people who are health-conscious or have been taking care of their health, are they going to get some form of health tax rebate or health relief in cash or vouchers? Also, many factors are involved, not just one. No point targeting just sugar. And what if people are busy at work or end work late, etc and have no time to exercise? Can we have some kind of system where most companies not let their employees do overtime work too often? Some other countries have better working systems. EDWINA KOH We rather they force companies to take care of staff members’ health by having exercising time for bonding. SOH WEE MENG If high-sugar drinks and food are banned, why not reduce monthly water bills to make it perfectly healthy for all citizens and end the diabetes problem faster? SEOW HAN CHYE I like how we are taking such drastic measures on issues like this, but we can t do the same with other issues, such as “banishing” plastic bags to reduce usage. STACY DAKOTA Hey, Ministry of Health, you need to go beyond that. Understand the Glycermic Index (GI) of every known sugar and carbohydrates before taking out the high GI index ones. ERIC CHEN The best way, in my opinion, is education and a tax. A ban will never eliminate the problem and… may create a black market. I feel that mandatory labels won’t work because many won’t really care and some may not be able to read and understand technical jargon. The advertising regulations and tax are good ideas. CHELSEA VICTORIA ONG Has the research been done to prove that we are drinking too much high-sugared drinks? Does this account for the coffee and tea that we consume from the coffee shop? What about the copious amount of unhealthy food filled with too much oil, sugar and salt that we consume? RAPHAEL GABRIEL YEO Many products with sugar replacement or less sugar are more expensive — something I do not understand... People should alter their taste buds, like drinking coffee without sugar or milk. It will help to take less sweet food or drink gradually. NANNY LILA It s a good move, but it can be better if the money raised by the tax can be used to help those in need of treatment for diabetes, through more subsidies. What you gain from tax, you spend that amount to help those in need… MOH said that it is not out to generate more tax revenue, but did not go on to explain what it is going to do with the revenue. WILLY KOU In tandem with this, they need to encourage food establishments to serve plain water, not fancy, expensive, pay-through-your-nose water. Yesterday at lunch, I was told it was S$1.90 for free flow of soft drinks. I asked for water. “We only serve Evian, Ma’am”. It was cheaper to order the soft drinks. This has to change. LEOW SIU CHENG Tobacco tax, alcohol tax... Do they solve smoking and drinking problems? Instead you have to further curb drinking and smoking problems with more regulations. HENG KEE LEE After this, let’s tackle high blood pressure by imposing salt tax, then maybe fried food tax. RIDZWAN LATIFF Sugary drink taxes should be high enough to change consumer behaviour. We should also put a levy on white rice and processed snacks, then all fat tax collected should go to subsidise prices of fruits, nuts and vegetables. Imagine if fruits, nuts and vegetables were a third the price they are now. Imagine the impact on everyone’s health, especially the poor! FRANK YOUNG *Comments were first posted on TODAY s Facebook page and TODAY Readers Facebook group. They are edited for language and clarity.

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