With an alarming 3.6 million Malaysian adults estimated to be diabetics, Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) has called for Malaysians to reduce their sugar intake by as much as 80 percent.

Malaysians consume 26 teaspoons of sugar daily as compared to the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation of five teaspoons daily.

“It is however not easy for Malaysians to reduce their consumption of sugar to the healthy level. We simply take too much processed foods which are overloaded with sugar. The sugar in processed foods is hidden from public awareness,” said CAP president S.M. Mohamed Idris in a statement.

Almost 15.2 percent of Malaysian adults were diabetic in 2011 as compared to just one to two percent in 1960.

Malaysia is the top country in ASEAN for having the highest number of diabetics and the numbers continue to increase at an alarming rate.

“Malaysians had surpassed the World Health Organization’s forecast of 807,000 diabetics in 2025,” he said

S.M. Mohamed urged the authorities to take several actions, including managing schoolchildren’s temptation to buy junk food.

“Remove vending machines dispensing junk food and sugary drinks from areas such as hospitals, airports and schools.”

“Ban the sale of junk food in school canteens and food hawking within a fixed perimeter around schools so that schoolchildren are not tempted to purchase unhealthy food,” he said.

He also urged manufacturers to avoid or reduce sugar in their products.

“The authorities should also ban the use of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), a cheap and unhealthy substitute for refined sugar, in food products,” said S.M. Mohamed.

Diabetes does not only take a toll on the country’s resources, but also on the limbs (amputation), eyesight (blindness), kidney (failure), heart (failure) and nerve (damage) of its sufferers.

“Diabetes is a chronic disease that can be prevented and for those affected, diabetes can be managed to delay or prevent its complications by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and making better choices in their diet,” said S.M. Mohamed.