Singapore government is moving to treat sugary drinks in Singapore equally dangerous as tobacco. The move will start rolling out sometime in the next four years.

According to Senior Minister of State for Health Mr Edwin Tong, speaking at the Singapore Health & Biomedical Congress, it will start by banning all advertisements of sugary drinks. Then, drinks with medium-to-high sugar content will have a label to indicate that it is unhealthy – akin to what we see on tobacco products today.

The label will be colour coded indicating whether it’s healthy, unhealthy, or neutral – depending on the sugar content level and other factors. This involves all kinds of packaging from big bottles to small instant beverage sachets.

Mr Tong added that the government is only trying to win their fight against diabetes, which is a major health problem in Singapore. The anti-sugary move is focused on the following:

  1. Encourage individuals to opt for a healthier choice of drink
  2. Encourage manufacturers to reduce the sugar content of their products
  3. Fight diabetes

According to a Bloomberg study, Southeast Asia countries are among the world’s biggest consumers of sugar on a per capita basis. Along with it is the increase in health issues involving obesity and diabetes.

The government stated that public opinion was asked first before deciding whether it’s necessary to go aggressive against sugary drinks.  The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) seek the public view in 2018 which involves 4,000 respondents. They’re hoping to get an opinion regarding the following:

  • Advertising Regulation
  • Mandatory warning label
  • Total ban on high-sugar content drinks
  • Sugar tax.

The consultation resulted in 84% in favour of the mandatory labels, 71% supported the regulation of advertising, and less than 50% agreed for a total ban. Views regarding sugar tax were not disclosed.

The government said they will continue to study these options.