GEORGE TOWN, Malaysia: Malaysians consume an average of 26 teaspoons of sugar per person daily, revealed a 2005 survey. And early this year, the country was ranked the world's eighth highest sugar user.
In the 70s, Malaysians only consumed 17 teaspoons of sugar per person per day.
Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) president S.M. Mohamed Idris said the consumption might have increased further by now, as the last research was done in 2005.
He said Malaysians consumed sugar in the form of, among others, soft drinks, condensed milk, flavoured drinks, junk food and even breakfast cereals. A CAP survey revealed that some drinks and food contained 10 teaspoons of sugar in one serving.
Idris said a brand of orange juice contained 40.8 teaspoons of sugar in a two-litre pack while a brand of cordial syrup had 200 teaspoons in a two-litre bottle.
He also said former Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad revealed earlier this year that Malaysia was the eighth highest sugar users in the world.
He said the International Diabetes Institute recorded Malaysia as having the fourth highest number of diabetics in Asia with 800,000 cases in 2007, which was expected to increase to 1.3 million in 2010.
"Sugar is linked to over 60 ailments such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart problems, osteoporosis, kidney problems, asthma and allergies.
"According to the Health Ministry's statistics, 11.6 million of the 16 million adults nationwide are sick with a non-communicable disease like diabetes, hypertension or cancer.
"Malaysia has the most overweight and obese people in Asia with 54% of the adult population either being obese or overweight," Idris told a press conference at CAP office yesterday.
"Thus, CAP calls on the Government to work with food manufacturers to avoid sugar in their products," he added.
He also urged the Government to make it a requirement for manufacturers to graphically display the sugar content in their products by the number of teaspoons as well as colour labelling with red, orange and green indicating the sugar level as high, medium or low respectively.
"The Government should also stop advertisements of highly-sugared drinks and food during children's television viewing hours, and educate schoolchildren and the public on the dangers of excessive sugar intake," Idris said. -The Star/ANN