In a move to “motivate Singaporeans to take charge of their health”, the Ministry of Health is considering a range of measures which includes a possible sugar tax to deter people from taking in too much sugar in their diet.
This comes after a National Day Rally (NDR) by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong singled out diabetes as a major concern for the future of Singapore last Sunday.
According to the MOH statement on its website, “In Singapore, diabetes is a serious health concern, with over 400,000 Singaporeans living with the disease. One in three Singaporeans has a lifetime risk of getting diabetes and the number of those with diabetes is projected to reach one million by 2050, if current trends continue. In April 2016, MOH declared War on Diabetes to rally a whole-of-nation effort to reduce the burden of diabetes in our population and keep Singaporeans healthy as we age.”
The MOH has to that end established a Diabetes Prevention and Care Taskforce, whose task has been to work with beverage manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar in packaged sugar sweetened beverages. To date, seven industry leaders – Coca-Cola, F&N Foods, Malaysia Dairy Industries, Nestle, PepsiCo, Pokka, and Yeo Hiap Seng – have committed to a maximum sugar content of 12% for all of their drinks sold in Singapore by 2020. These players make up 70% of the total pre-packaged SSB market in Singapore.
The Taskforce is studying a possible “sugar tax” on sweetened drinks, as well as implementing warning labels and advertising restrictions on sweetened beverages. Details are not available about this measure yet as the Taskforce is in the midst of consulting with industry stakeholders.