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How much sugar is too much in your CNY beverages?
Published on: Tuesday, January 24, 2023
By: DOC2US
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It’s Chinese New Year again! During home visits, other than various festive delicacies there will also be beverages such as the various soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, and packet tea, and just like second nature, you’ll pick up a drink or two during each visit. Did you know that they are packed with added sugar?

BUT WHAT IS ADDED SUGAR?

Added sugar or hidden sugar, means that sugar was artificially added on for various reasons, from increasing the sweetness of the product to acting as a food preservative.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH ADDED SUGAR?

Added simple sugars may contribute to excessive energy intake without us knowing it.  

When there is too much energy intake for a prolonged period of time can cause excessive weight gain, leading to obesity. 

Obesity can predispose one to higher risk of developing non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, non-fatty liver disease and others.

WHO SAYS HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

The World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministry of Health Malaysia suggests a healthy Malaysian adults’ sugar intake (including added sugar) should not exceed 50g a day (based on 2000 kcal intake).

With that concept, which means:

1 can of soda(360ml) contains about 39 grams of sugar or more than 9 teaspoons of sugar. Some flavoured sodas contain as much as 46 grams or about 11 teaspoons of sugar.

1 can of 100 plus =  21.5g = 5 tsp 

1 can of Shandy = 25g = 6 tsp

1 bottle of ready to drink fruit juice (300ml) has about 40 grams or 10 teaspoons of sugar.

KNOW WHERE TO SPOT THE ‘SUGAR’!

Malaysia Food Regulations from the Ministry of Health declared that total sugar content is a mandatory nutrient to be labelled on ready-to-drink beverages. Check your drink nutritional label and look for ‘total sugar’ before drinking it. Go for the beverage with a lesser total sugar content.

Winter Melon Packet Drink: 12.3g vs 12.0g

Chrysanthemum Packet drink: 12.3g vs 11.3g .

READ THE INGREDIENTS LIST!

This is a crucial way to distinguish if the beverages are high in sugar. When sugar is among the first few ingredients listed, it indicates that sugar is the main ingredient of the products.

Here is a list of common added sugar we may see in beverages:

Beet sugar 

Cane sugar/ juice

Caramel

Corn syrups

Invert sugar

liquid sweeteners

Molasses

Nectars

Fun fact: ingredient ends with ‘ose’ is a source of sugar as well eg. maltose, dextrose sucrose.

You may also come across ‘concentrate’ in the ingredient list in your ready-to-drink fruit juices. The ‘concentrate’ is a natural form of fruit juice but it can come with a lot of added sugar as well, other than the natural sugar 'sucrose’ itself. 

LET’S LEARN SOME TRICKS TO HELP YOU MANAGE YOUR SUGAR INTAKE IN BEVERAGE: 

Share the canned drink or your packet drink with your friends and family. Drinking with a smaller cup would be better to reduce the intake and always fill up less than half of your cup. Don’t forget that sharing sugar is caring for your health! 

Reduce. As mentioned above, it is recommended to drink not more than 1 can in a day. Swap any of the sugary drinks with unsweetened beverages, such as water and unsweetened chinese tea. 

Substitute. If you are still craving for a soda drink you can soda swap with a zero sugar version. Zero soda is a soda that substitutes sugar with artificial sweetener which contains zero calories and has little or no effect on blood sugar level.

NORMAL SODA VS ZERO

Do It Yourself. Do consider purchasing sparkling water and plant-based milk. You can add your own fresh or frozen fruit, honey or any of the natural sweeteners to your homemade drink to give it a touch of sweetness but watch out your limit! Lastly, toppings such as mint leaves or lemon skin would be a cherry on top. 

Here is a simple and healthy drink recipe from us: 

Despite beverages being the main focus in this article, bear in mind that added sugars can also be found in a majority of our food products such as pineapple tarts, pastries, cookies, salad dressings, condiments and so on. Hence, it is always important to read our food labels and practise mindful eating to avoid consuming excessive calories and unintentional weight gain during this festive season.  

*Terms and conditions apply. Strictly on a first-come, first-serve basis. DOC2US reserves the right to amend the terms and conditions without prior notice.

This article is written by Ashley Leow (DOC2US) & John Lim (DOC2US),

reviewed by Dr. Ahmad Haniffan, MBBS​ (DOC2US)​


REFERENCES:

Pantai Hospital Batu Pahat. 4 things you can do to change your sugar habit. Health Pulse [Internet]. 2023 Jan 4. Available from: https://www.pantai.com.my/health-pulse/change-sugar-habit-tips

Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia. Malaysian Dietary Guideline 2020. [Internet]. 2023 Jan 13. Available from: https://nutrition.moh.gov.my/MDG2020/ 

Foodipedia. New Malaysia Nutrition Facts Label Requirements (Effective 2022). [Internet]. 2023 Jan 4 Available from: https://www.foodipedia.my/new-malaysia-nutrition-facts-label-requirements-effective-2022/

Malaysia Ministry Of Health. Facts About Sugar. MyHealth Portal. 2023 Jan 4 Available from: http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/facts-about-sugar/

Maria SV, Geok LK, Pauline C. Intake of added sugar in Malaysia: a review. Research Gate [Internet]. 2023 Jan 5 Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304164092_Intake_of_added_sugar_in_Malaysia_a_review