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Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Basic facts

A can of sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB):

1)    commonly accepted to be12 fl oz or 368g

2)    usually contains 130-150 kcal

3)    90% of calories comes from non-milk extrinsic sugar (NMES)

4)    NMES used is commonly in a form of sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup.

5)    The micronutrient content in SSB is nearly nil, hence the term 'empty calories'.


Sugar facts

1)     Humans do not need to consume sugar at all to function normally

2)    Your body can get all the sugar it needs for daily living from the carbohydrates in a well-balanced diet alone.

3)    Any additional sugar you consume in your diet has to be stored away by the body in the form of fat.


Categories of SSB

Note that the recommended drink for when you are thirsty is always clean drinking water

Occasionally you may choose to have an SSB for variety, to help you make healthier choices, Ministry of Health Nutrition Unit have categorized SSB sold in the country into 4 categories (see the document entitled "Amount of sugar in SSB')

1)   Healthier choice: these are usually unmodified fruit/vegetable juices with a variable sugar content that is offset by natural high vitamin/nutrient content with many benefits to health. A glass of unmodified fruit/vegetable juices (no added sugar) counts as one portion of the 5 portions of fruits and vegetables you should take in a day.

Did you know that one glass of modified fruit/vegetable juices counts for one portion of fruits/vegetables a day but any more glasses after that doesn't?

This is because it unmodified juices still has a variable sugar content as it is sourced naturally, so it can still be quite high in sugar. Juices also count as processing the fruit or vegetable which can lower the nutrients and fibre content of the whole fruit or vegetable.

2)    Lower in sugar: a healthier choice than the last category, but you should still decrease total amount taken when possible

3)    Avoid / drink less - should be avoided or the amount taken by a person should be decreased


Quick tips to lower sugar intake

1)    Always choose to drink water over any other type of drink

2)    Choose smaller sizes when choosing beverages, limiting the portion size and so the amount you can drink at any one time

3)    Learn how to read the labels in drink products and make it a habit to read the labels before buying

4)    If you are used to having sweetened condensed milk in your hot beverages, change your habits and choose a low-fat milk substitute


More detailed tips to lower sugar intake

Here's a handy checklist you can tick off to help lower your sugar intake

1)     Reduce the amount of sugar added to your tea, coffee and cereal. Get used to the taste until you can avoid adding it altogether

2)    AVOID buying sugary and chocolate-added cereals for your kids. A good rule of thumb is if it's got a cartoon on the box, it's got too much sugar in it.

3)    Read and compare food labels before making a choice

4)    Replace high sugar items with low sugar ones

5)    Choose sugar free drinks when possible. Note we're not encouraging choosing drinks with artificial sweeteners but it is still a better choice on balance than sugary drinks. The evidence we have available against using artificial sweeteners is weaker than the evidence against using sugar

6)    Be aware that salty/savoury foods can contain lots of sugar

7)    Be aware of the amount of sugar is contained in the snacks you eat

8)    Eat the fruit whole or in pieces rather than juicing it

9)    Always choose fresh natural juices over canned/bottled/concentrates. These contain added sugar

10) Do not allow sugar to be added to your Smoothies, tea, coffee and natural fruit juice. Make it a point to tell the waitress/waiter not to add sugar to these drinks.

11) Cook as much as possible, avoiding readymade sauces and instant mixes which can be high in sugar.

Consequences of excessive SSB intake

1)    Drinking too much SSB may displace other essential nutrients, and evidence suggests that this can result in nutrition deficiencies, even in fairly advanced industrialized societies (overweight children with vitamin deficiencies for example)

2)    SSB has a strong association with increase in dental carries in general population. The results in many problems for adults and children including pain, loss of teeth and mental issues such as a loss of self-confidence and self-esteem, and even depression  

3)    Increased risk of obesity

  • Obesity can go on to lead to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and so on

4)    Increased risk of diabetes

  • Diabetes itself leads to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney problems, amputation of feet and other issues to do with blood circulation and loss of feeling in hands and feet
  • Diabetes is the single biggest cause of blindness in Brunei Darussalam
  • Diabetes itself is a top killer in Brunei Darussalam

5)    The combination of obesity and diabetes make other complications such as heart disease, stroke and kidney problems even more likely and difficult to treat

To check the amount of sugar in different drink categories:
​Click here

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