KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry will come up with a new regulation on sugar content in food and drinks soon to encourage Malaysians to reduce their sugar intake, said Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng. The move, he said, was aimed at preventing chronic diseases like diabetes among Malaysians. He added that 8% of the country’s adult population suffered from diabetes as a result of changing lifestyles which included a high intake of sugar and a lack of exercise. “Two centuries ago, sugar was not a common commodity. Now, Malaysians seem to have developed a sweet tooth. “Despite the ministry’s reduce sugar consumption campaign introduced in April 1998, Malaysians are still taking too much sugar,” he told reporters after launching a therapeutic garden at Kuala Lumpur Hospital yesterday. Chua said he would announce the new regulation “soon” but declined to elaborate on the matter. He was commenting on a report about diabetes becoming an Asian epidemic, which appeared in Time magazine on Dec 9. The report said victims were getting younger than ever, and today some 89 million Asians were thought to be diabetic. It also reported that according to the International Diabetes Institute in Victoria, Australia, India had an estimated 32.7 million people with diabetes, China 22.6 million, Pakistan 8.8 million, and Japan 7.1 million. The ministry’s campaign to reduce sugar consumption was aimed at encouraging people to avoid excessive intake, which could lead to health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and tooth decay. It had recommended a daily intake of only 50gm or 10 teaspoons, compared to the average consumption among Malaysians of 24 teaspoons. On the therapeutic garden, Chua said it would promote the healing process, improve the mental and physical well-being of patients and serve as a perfect spot for them to rest. S.P. Setia Foundation, a charity trust established by S.P. Setia Bhd, funded the construction cost of the garden, which came to RM60,000. - The Star