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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on April 14)

All Headlines 07:08 April 14, 2016

A war on sugar

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) has come up with measures to reduce the consumption of food and drinks that contain lots of sugar. That translates into a declaration of war on sugar when Koreans enjoy food with an increasingly high dose of glycogen in their everyday diets. According to the first stage (2016~2020) of the ambitious plan, coffee vending machines will mostly disappear from our primay, middle and high schools, while the number of foods — which should identify their sugar content along with their calories and sodium content — increases significantly.

Through the measure, the ministry aims to cut the daily calories average Koreans get from processed foods with high content of glycogen by up to ten percent by 2020. The Ministry of Health and Welfare also joined the initiative on the following day by releasing broader general guidelines for citizens’ dietary life, including nine principles for our healthy culinary culture.

We can hardly dispute the fact that Koreans use too much sugar for not only manufactured foods but also for home meals or restaurant recipes due to the ignorance of the people about the danger from high-glycogen food. Sugar was often introduced as a secret weapon to cover up cheap and low-quality food ingredients.

As the consumption of snack food and processed food and beverages increases rapidly among children and juveniles, their absorption of sugar content rose sharply. The intake of calories from processed food among the age group between 3 and 29 has already exceeded ten percent of total calories they need on a daily basis. Given the alarming portion of sugar in their diets, the MFDS has devised appropriate and timely guidelines for the health of our younger generation.

But actions speak louder than words. What we need is a strong action plan aimed at encouraging the public to have better, safer and healthier dietary habits through aggressive education. The government should kick off public health education campaigns by fully taking advantage of various types of digital media. The ministry also needs to expand health education programs nationwide after reinforcing the function of public health centers across the nation.

The authorities must also reform health education programs at schools to improve the young generation’s eating habits through the guidelines on low-sugar diets, not to mention at day care centers, hospitals, workplaces and the military. At the same time, the government must establish a joint headquarters to effectively combat with cooperation from local governments and the private sector. That’s the only way to victory in a war on sugar.
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