THE government should set up a “nerve centre” to address challenges in controlling sugar intake among consumers in its quest to shape a healthier nation.
Malaysian Islamic Consumers Association (PPIM) chief activist Datuk Nadzim Johan said the nerve centre, which would focus on micro issues, including tackling diabetes, could carry out research in collaboration with universities.
The data gathered could then be used to carry out programmes more effectively.
“Most times, the aspiration behind directives or instructions which come from the top, say the minister, are passed to the director-general and the director, but are lost along the way.
“The intended purpose is not properly told to the staff (who carry out policies and directives).”
Nadzim said the various ministries must be in sync in promoting such initiatives.
“We want the people to adopt a healthy lifestyle, but our schoolchildren are fed with carbonated drinks and milk with high sugar content, for instance,” he told the New Straits Times .
Nadzim was asked to comment on the sugar tax, which is to be implemented from today.
He said imposing such a tax might have little impact on sugar consumption among the public unless concerted efforts were carried out by all parties.
The community, on the other hand, must understand the government’s efforts and support any move for the betterment of society, he said.
“Everyone should play a role in shaping a healthier community.
“This is because, as noble as the idea to promote a healthy lifestyle is, people will still consume sugar despite having to pay more for it as they do not understand the objective behind such a move.”
Universiti Teknologi Mara Centre of Nutrition and Dietetics Studies chief Dr Norazmir Md Nor said more initiatives sho-uld be carried out to ensure that the government’s aspirations were realised.
“The implementation of a sugar tax is timely and is one of the many steps that could lead to a reduction in sugar intake among the people and eventually lead to a healthier diet.
“To encourage food innovators to provide healthier food options, incentives like tax redemption should be awarded to their companies.
“In addition to nutritional values on the products’ labels, items with high sugar content should be labelled prominently, say in a red label.
“We can never win the fight against manufacturers, especially with social media which they could use to promote their products.
“This is where the government plays its role through policies while educating the public,” said the UiTM Health Science Faculty deputy dean, who is also a member of the national Food Labelling Committee.
It was reported that Malaysia would start imposing a sugar tax of 40 sen per litre on sweetened beverages beginning today.
The revenue collected would be used to provide free and healthy breakfast programmes for pupils.
It was reported that 40 sen would be imposed on soft drinks, including carbonated or flavoured and non-alcoholic beverages with more than 5g of sugar or sugar-based sweeteners per 100ml.
For juice or vegetable-based drinks, a 40-sen tax per litre will be imposed on drinks with more than 12g of sugar per 100ml.
Article by: New Straits Times
SET UP NERVE CENTRE TO TACKLE MSIANS’ HIGH SUGAR INTAKE