Many people choose isotonic “sports” drinks and canned juices because they believe they are healthy.
In fact, they contain almost as much sugar as sweetened, fizzy drinks such as cola.
A new website, Sugar Alert, has been set up to combat this kind of misconception.
Launched by the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, it will educate consumers about how much sugar they are really consuming.
The site has a chart of several popular canned drinks and their sugar content: A can of carrot juice or soya bean milk, for example, contains seven teaspoons of sugar, just two teaspoons less than carbonated cola drinks.
A survey of 26 vending machine customers by the school found that more than 70 percent thought sports drinks, juices and teas were healthy.
“People think carbonated drinks are unhealthy and sports drinks aren’t, but this is an undesirable perception we hope to change so people can make more informed choices,” said Associate Professor Rob van Dam, who conducted the study.
He was speaking at a diabetes symposium the school organized at the Grand Hyatt Singapore yesterday.
More than 70 percent of those surveyed said they did not check the nutritional labels on the canned drinks they were buying.
Prof van Dam said the Sugar Alert website, which he hopes to eventually convert into a mobile application, is targeted specifically at the younger generation as part of his campaign to raise awareness about Type-2 diabetes.
He and his team will also be working on putting up Sugar Alert posters in polytechnics and universities.
“We found that the younger generation consume almost one canned drink a day, especially those in their 20s, and this increases their risk of diabetes significantly, so we hope to help them break the bad habit,” he said.
More than 11 percent of adults in Singapore have diabetes. Type-2 is the most common form, where the sufferer develops insulin resistance and the body cannot absorb sugar. Most people with the disease are overweight when they are diagnosed.
The Sugar Alert site can be found at sph.nus.edu.sg (click on the Public Education tab in the main window).
Reprinted courtesy of Straits Times Indonesia. To subscribe to Straits Times Indonesia and/or the Jakarta Globe call 021 2553 5055.