LAST_UPDATESat, 23 Jun 2018 4pm

What The Recent Viral Video About Malaysia’s Favourite Malt Drink Really Says About Our Sugar Consumption

For the past one week, a viral video concerning the alarming sugar level contained in a chocolate malt drink that is favoured by Malaysians has got everyone talking.

The controversy sparked by video has found its way into social media as it got concerned Malaysians to take a second look at their dietary decisions.

But the controversy goes beyond consuming sugary drinks and more to do with Malaysian eating habits that led to us being the fattest nation in Asia.

In 2016, NST reported that Malaysia is the fattest country in Asia, with almost half of Malaysians aged between 18 years old and above (47.7%) were categorised as overweight or obese.

While a lack of exercise among Malaysians is found to be a major factor in the report, our pattern of food consumption is another major factor.

Additionally, the report highlighted that 30.3% of Malaysians aged 18 years old and above suffer from high blood pressure; 47.7% suffer from high cholesterol; and 17.5% are diagnosed with diabetes.

With the aforementioned diseases regarded as chronic lifestyle-related diseases, Malaysian Digest takes a closer look why the unsettling issue has ruffled some feathers.

Back in December 2017, New York Times published an enlightening article which revealed that nutritionists have been receiving financial support from major food companies.

The Nutrition Society of Malaysia reportedly has their research on local diets and lifestyle funded by power companies such as Nestle, Kellogg’s, PepsiCo and Tate &Lyle – allegedly received funds worth at least USD$188,000 (RM767,000).

Additionally, the report stressed that the society continued to promote Nestle’s cereals, such as KoKo Krunch and Cookie Crisp, despite its high sugar content, while simultaneously advocating for the 2014 Nestle Healthy Kids programme.

Be that as it may, the society’s leading expert, Tee E Siong, pointed out that the blame lies more with Malaysian’s poor lifestyle and dietary choices rather than with the food corporations.

“We have to stop blaming the multinationals,” he opined.

“Malaysians are always eating. They don’t exercise. But you don’t need to go the gym. You need to walk outside. It’s free. Get off your chair and move!”

This brings us back to why the viral video posted by founder-cum-CEO of Mindvalley, Vishen Lakhiani has hit a raw nerve among Malaysians, receiving over 791,000 views and over 18,000 shares.

Nestlé has since responded to the controversy denying that the viral video uploaded by Lakhiani is misleading, and stressed that 50% of sugar contained in Milo are naturally sourced from milk and malt.

“We keep the amount of sugar we add to a minimum – adding only 6gm of sugar for every 200ml serving, which is about one teaspoon of sugar, to maintain the taste that Malaysians are familiar with.

“We take our responsibility to produce great tasting, nutritious products very seriously,” the statement reported by The Star read.

In a follow-up to their earlier statement, the company’s Halal Affairs Committee chairman Othman Md Yusoff also issued a public statement on the issue.

He explained that if consumers follow the suggested serving of five spoonfuls of Milo mixed with 200 millilitres of water, the sugar content would only be around six per cent.

"Forty per cent of sugar content (per serving) refers to the sugar content in the Milo powder before it is mixed with water. After water is added, the sugar level is only six per cent.

"From the six per cent, only three per cent comes from added sugar content, while three per cent is natural sugar from milk (lactose) that is found in powdered Milo,” he told a press conference yesterday, Bernama reported.

- Malaysian Digest