SINGAPORE: Singaporeans are eating better and consuming fewer calories overall, the latest National Nutrition Survey released on Monday (Nov 19) showed, but authorities said high sugar and salt intake remains a cause for concern.
The average person consumed 2,470 calories a day in 2018 compared to 2,600 calories a day in 2010, the last time a similar survey was conducted. An adult male requires about 2,200 calories a day while a female requires about 1,800 calories a day.
"We think that there's a much greater awareness among Singaporeans on the importance of healthier living, possibly also driven by a lot of the publicity around our war on diabetes," Health Promotion Board CEO Zee Yoong Kang said.
"That seems to have caused Singaporeans to bring in more brown rice and wholegrains into the diet. That's a clear trend that we see, not just from the survey but also market data."
The survey, which looks at 1,000 people aged between 18 and 69, found that on the whole, Singaporeans are eating less carbohydrates and when they do, they're eating more wholegrain alternatives, as well as fruit and vegetables.
When it comes to protein, about 80 per cent of Singaporeans are meeting the recommended intake.
Total fat intake has increased, but it is because Singaporeans are eating more of the good kind - unsaturated fat which could be in the form of nuts and fish.
Singaporeans are also consuming less saturated fat, which is found in condensed milk and cake, for instance, and is linked to heart disease.
But total sugar intake remains high, increasing from 59g in 2010 to 60g in 2018. This is despite a slight dip in sugar intake from drinks, as people are consuming richer foods such as those with sauces and desserts.
Nine in 10 Singaporeans are consuming more salt than they should, with the average person taking in almost double the recommended amount of 5g per day.
"The diet quality affects the risk related to chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases,” said Dr Rani Sarmugan, principal investigator of the National Nutrition Survey.
While efforts to curb sugar intake are ongoing, tackling salt poses a bigger challenge as it is found in many types of food and serves functions beyond flavouring.
“I do not expect there to be just one measure because of the huge range of sources of salt but multiple measures that target the different kinds of salt from our condiments, through even things like noodles and soup,” said Mr Zee.
“How to change the palette will be quite challenging.”