LETTER

Scrap sugar subsidy and save lives

SM Mohamed Idris

Published
Modified 2 Feb 2012, 8:57 am

The Consumers Association of Penang calls upon the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism to immediately stop subsidising the price of sugar.

Sugar should be sold at its market price because it is not a basic necessity and its consumption only harms one's health.

Sugar has been linked to over 60 ailments from cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart problems, osteoporosis and kidney problems to asthma and allergies.

Malaysians already consume an average of 26 teaspoons of sugar per day. Continuous consumption of high-sugar drinks causes obesity, one of the major factors causing diabetes.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association a study of more than 90,000 women suggests that the increased consumption of sodas and sugary drinks may significantly increase the chance of getting adult onset diabetes.

The prevalence of diabetes in Malaysia had jumped from 1-2 percent in 1960. 6.3 percent in 1985, 8.3 percent in 1996 and 14.9 percent in 2006. At the current population of 28 million and at the prevalence rate of 15 percent it is estimated that there are 4.2 million diabetics in Malaysia.

By selling sugar at market price, government will actually end up saving more than RM567 million (the subsidy spent on keeping the price of sugar at the artificial price of RM2.30).

This is because government can save millions in healthcare costs when it does not have to treat sugar-related diseases.

Furthermore, it does not make sense for the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism to go all out to make the price of sugar affordable whilst the Ministry of Health carries out campaigns to reduce the intake of sugar.

We would like to reiterate that government should not be subsidising the very substance that is detrimental to our health when the money can be better spent elsewhere.


SM Mohamed Idris is president of the Consumers Association of Penang