The Government of Singapore has announced a plan to limit the amount of sugar in soft drinks by 2020, with major companies including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé agreeing to cut the levels of added sugar in their soft drinks to 12% by 2020.

By now most of us will be familiar with the sugar debate. We as a society consume too much sugar and there are clear health risks, foremost amongst them diabetes and obesity. As a consequence countries around the world are struggling to come up with solutions to tackle growing health problems. So far the most common solution has been to introduce a sugar tax as a deterrent to consumers purchasing soft drinks with high sugar levels; however the Ministry of Health in Singapore has proposed to go a step further. The government announced last week that it is planning to tackle the problem in conjunction with some of the largest soft drinks manufacturers in the region.

The agreement with the soft drinks companies is part of a focus on behalf of the government to tackle the issue of diabetes in Singapore. As part of his National Day rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said one in every nine Singaporeans suffers from diabetes, with the prevalence increasing with age.

Between the companies that have agreed to the sugar cut, approximately 70% of packaged sweetened drinks available to consumers in Singapore will be subject to the new sugar limit. While this may sound like a prescriptive measure, health experts have criticized the plan for not going far enough. Many of the beverages from these major companies already fall under the sugar cap as the figure of 12% applies to every 100ml of soft drink, meaning that a single 250ml could contain a maximum of 30g of sugar. With the Health Promotion Board of Singapore recommending that people should consume no more than 40-55g of added sugar a day, a single can of sugary drink under the sugar cap would already comprise the majority of the recommended daily intake. As with other measures across the globe to discourage excessive consumption of sugar, the choice will continue to ultimately lie with consumers.