Jul 15, 2010

Sweet excuses

The Star, Friday July 16, 2010

Health issue a factor in sugar price increase

PETALING JAYA: Sugar suffered the highest cut in subsidies and the reasons are obvious – to counter diseases due to “over-use” of the commodity.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office pointed out that 40% of Malaysians were overweight or obese.

“Incidents of diabetes are rising quickly. Statistics show that the percentage of Malaysians with diabetes now exceeds that in the United States.

“We must, as a matter of urgency, take every step available to tackle what is clearly a public health issue for our nation. Reducing sugar consumption, among our children in particular, is a step in the right direction,” it said.

The other reasons offered were countering smuggling of the commodity and the subsidy benefiting non-targeted groups.

It was noted that businesses used twice as much subsidised sugar than households, while sugar continues to be smuggled overseas.

“In 2009 alone, smugglers were caught with more than 200 metric tonnes of sugar for sale across the borders,” the statement added.

All sugar and sweet may not be nice.

The big titles in most dailies, except those stubborn papers who continued to print despite Home Minister's banning, will most probably covers how much the subsidy cut leading to a rise to several prices for several commodities. No, I am not saying this cuts were nice. But though, seems to be attractive enough that loads of Malaysian been proclaiming in the cyberspace about their intention to copulate with the government, specifically the ruling party. Their shout outs were crude, not stating how they wish to go about executing this indecent act or whether their entry would be upfront or rear.

Basically, secretly and quietly, I am probably from the same cohort, but I think the most decent thing to do is by the ballot box and to influence others to do the same.

Here on the topic of health, probably, I wish to express my personal opinion that sugar is not, to make it clearer, NOT a cause of diabetic.

To make my opinion peppered out with sound scientific albeit medical details, I shall explain further from very basic. I won't go into the complicated territory of LADA or MODY. There are 2 types of diabetes, cleverly named as Type 1 and Type 2. Basically Type 1 is by fate and the other is by fat.

Type 1 is genetic. The organ in the body called pancreas failed to produce sufficient insulin, therefore causing malregulation of sugar in the blood, leading to diabetes.

Type 2 is due to insulin intolerance meaning how the body rejects the real function of insulin, although sufficient hormone in the body. How this intolerance came about is basically linked to how much fat/adipose one collected in the body, mainly in the abdomen.

Therefore, most of Malaysians diabetics are of Type 2 and mostly obese.

Sugar is not the cause of obesity. Carbohydrate is.

One can only stand a fair amount of sugar. Too much will surely make a person feel like puking, nauseated, annoyed, violent and probably swear like a ... u get the picture. I went through hell and hell and took a lot of courage and time to convince my dearest to undergo the 2nd MGTT (modified glucose tolerance test) during this pregnancy. MGTT basically is about screening for pregnancy-induced diabetes by taking blood sugar level before and 2 hours after drinking a cup of thick super duper sugary cup of water.

With the limit cap on the sugar, to have obesity from chronic overdose of sugar is like collecting pennies every day, hoping to be a millionaire.

The real big bucks in collecting all the major notes, or better still the amount of money directly transferred to the account without being burden by the weight of having them.

That is when the carbohydrate kicks into the picture. It is the rice and its other alter ego. Carbohydrate or more glamorously being known as carbs, when broken down turns in a full packet of sugar and carbs does come with the extra yuckiness from overeating.

Malaysians can take one plate after another. From day to night. From night to day. Pampering themselves while ordering a cup of Milo kurang manis. Trying their best to deceive their body from hooking up diabetes.

Cigarettes a health hazzard. Alcohol a health hazzard. Sugar a health hazzard, too?

Are we going to have sin taxes for sugar in our upcoming Budget 2011?

Looking at this argument, probably the government will roll up subsidy on rice, too. Will it work?

Not really. Having a good feast on carbs is bad for us. We know it, even if it is subconscious. But to have a good meal of carbs is actually not really out of need, but because we simply 'can' and we simply want to do it.

It is also becoming a culture. I remembered those days when I was in the Uni. Once reached fairly late at night, there will be supper session at the mamak. Probably our night study session had triggered off the gastric hyperactivity. And slowly the habit of individuals evolved into the culture of the community.

And where there's a demand, the supply will mushroom out. Even the fastfood joints stepping up to 24hours, knowing exactly that this investment is a bullish one.

Some even made pregnancy as their excuse for eating twice the portion in uncontrollable lust, trying to deceive themselves that they are eating for 2 person.

Then, don't get me started on exercise. Most of the people thinks their work already manage to provide them their required weekly dose of exercise.

A good summary was in the same page of online TheStar's news.

"The need to change living environment such as reducing sedentary behaviour at home and work, building active communities and involve active transport interventions, will help to reduce and prevent obesity,” an expert in the community intervention in Australia Boyd Swinburn quoted as saying.

So, sugar is not so bad after all?

Not really, sugar is bad for those already diagnosed with diabetics. Taking too much of sugar at one time is detrimental to the control of a good acceptable low level of blood sugar in diabetics, making its level opens up to a good ground of volatility which is actually bad, really bad in the long run. Bad meaning kidney failure, eye complications, smelly rot out diabetic foot, heart attack, stroke and damn ugly fking smelly wounds.

But before all those nasty complications kick in, by pulling out the subsidy on sugar, I don't find it convincing enough for the diabetics to reject a good serving of meal with the sugary perfection just because it is a few bucks dearer.

Speaking of meal, to cut down on the amount of sugar in some food, would be a disastrous crisis for the gourmet chefs. Without the right proportion of sugar, the meal would not be the same anymore.

My conclusion, if you really want to remove the subsidy, please do. It's about time Malaysians live without the 'crutch' culture, and start to look for a decent job before illegal immigrants fill up all the vacancy.

P.S. Roaming around Tesco/Giant during office hour and selling a few pieces of various items and calling the job 'kerja sendiri' is not a decent job.

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