A letter writer to the Straits Times forum page has disagreed with Health Promotion Board’s chief executive Zee Yoong Kang who asked Singaporeans to moderate eating white rice because it may overload the Asian bodies with blood sugar and heighten their risk of diabetes.
The letter writer Richard Seah Siew Sai said that Asians have been eating rice and other grains for several centuries, but that Asians only started displaying high rates of diabetes in recent decades. He also pointed out that “westerners do not eat much rice, yet the incidence of diabetes is rising very rapidly in their societies.”
“It seems that rice alone has not been a problem,” he said.
“Dr Robert Lustig, a major researcher on the harmful effects of sugar, found that obese children with at least one chronic disorder, such as high blood pressure, improved their health dramatically within nine days when sugar was taken off their diet,” Mr Seah added.
Mr Seah pointed out that this occurred despite the children continuing to receive the same number of calories.
Mr Seah further said: “beyond diabetes, recent research suggests that sugar – not saturated fats and cholesterol – is a leading cause of heart disease, as well as being a major factor in the development of cancer.
“Sugar is not a traditional food. It entered the Western diet only around 500 years ago. Since then, average sugar consumption has shot up to about 70kg per person per year. This sharp rise in consumption corresponds to a sharp rise in major degenerative diseases.
“This suggests that sugar is the main culprit, rather than rice.”
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