SINGAPORE: A study by researchers in Singapore has found that sweetened drinks form part of most type 2 diabetic patients’ diets in the country.
The drinks make up more than 10 per cent of their daily carbohydrate intake.
The survey compared the consumption and sources of carbohydrates across the three major ethnic groups in Singapore.
Verena Tan, senior research dietitian at A*STAR’s Clinical Nutrition Research Centre, said: “Malays, compared to the Chinese and Indians, were drinking a lot more sweetened beverages and we looked deeper into what beverages they are consuming.
“For the sweetened tea and the sweetened coffee, the common feature that I found that was very distinctive was sweetened condensed milk that was added into the drinks. For sugars, this is one component (that) does not offer additional nutrition compared to the other forms of carbohydrates.”
For Chinese and Indians, sweetened drinks did not play as major a role in their diets. Rice, noodles and other carbohydrates were favoured over the drinks instead.
The study found that all three races ate rice as their main source of carbohydrates.
Researchers said patients can expect tailored dietary advice during nutritional counselling following the release of the findings.
Currently, most nutritional recommendations for type 2 diabetes are based on Western diets.
Dr Eric Khoo, assistant professor at National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine’s department of medicine said: “As a physician or clinician, we will be able to know what to address. In broad terms — the patients in that particular ethnic group but also (on) an individual level – what the areas… we can substitute or change are so that they can improve their diabetes control.
“It highlights the importance of being specific to… the carbohydrates that are being consumed. The individuals (of) different ethnic groups have got different types of food and we need to be aware of it.”
A total of 306 patients with type 2 diabetes were surveyed.
The study involved Singaporeans above 50 years old who have been suffering from diabetes for more than 10 years on average.
This is the first study in Asia to comprehensively profile and compare the consumption and sources of carbohydrates across the different groups.
The study was conducted by the National University Health System and the National University of Singapore with funding from Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, A*STAR.