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S. Korea declares war on excessive sugar intake

All Headlines 15:41 April 07, 2016

By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, April 7 (Yonhap) -- The government here on Thursday announced an unprecedented campaign to reduce sugar consumption by its people, designating sugar as the main culprit behind the rising rates of obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases in Korean society.

In the initial five-year phase of the anti-sugar campaign, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety will make an intensive effort to keep the intake of sugar from processed foods, except for milk, below 10 percent of people's daily total energy.

For instance, an adult who takes in a total of 2,000 kcal a day will be asked to consume less than 200 kcal of sugar, or 50 grams of sugar. It means 16.7 sugar cubes, each weighing 3 grams.

Currently, the average South Korean eats 44.7 grams of sugar a day, which is still below the amount recommended by the World Health Organization but can somewhat be seen as threatening to public health.

The problem is that South Koreans' intake of sugar is on a steady increase, officials said.

The ratio of consumed sugar to total calories rose to 8.9 percent in 2013 from 7.6 percent in 2010, 7.7 percent in 2011 and 8.1 percent in 2012.

Excessive sugar intake is closely associated with such chronic diseases as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, according to the ministry.

It plans to toughen related regulations to attain the goal by 2020. The scope of processed food subject to mandatory nutrition labeling will be expanded to cereal, cocoa products, salad dressing and sauce.

The authorities will also promote a healthy diet and recipes using less sugar and alternatives as well.

"The consumption of processed food, including fast food, is steadily rising especially among kids and teenagers. We have mapped out a comprehensive plan to prevent chronic diseases from the intake of excessive sugar," the ministry said.

Local research showed 24 percent of South Koreans aged 30 or older are on the verge of diabetes.

Speaking to reporters later, Sohn Mun-gi, head of the ministry, stressed the importance of creating appropriate dietary habits.

But he ruled out the so-called sugar tax, saying, "There is no need to consider that yet," as South Korea is in the stage of pushing for "pre-emptive measures."

lcd@yna.co.kr
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