From the Viewsroom

Have yourself a ‘Blue Diwali’

PT Jyothi Datta | Updated on November 08, 2020

The sugar lobby’s promotion must be taken with a pinch of salt

A sour battle brews between doctors, especially those treating diabetes, and the sugar industry over the consumption of this sweetener. The Indian Sugar Mills Association recently launched a campaign to “debunk the myths surrounding sugar”, even quoting a government study, as they push for greater consumption of sugar. They have started a website to, in their words, counter the “unfounded negativity” on sugar consumption. Understandably, members of the medical fraternity are miffed. The pro-sugar campaign seems to have government support. The portal was launched by top officials from the Centre’s Department of Food and Public Distribution, ISMA said. And, the campaign comes ahead of festivals like Diwali, when people with diabetes, already struggle with keeping blood sugar-levels in check as “mithais” and other sweet delicacies are freely exchanged in families across the country. In a first in two decades apparently, Diwali falls on November 14th, a day that also marks ‘World Diabetes Day’ — a global campaign represented by a blue circle logo. Medical professionals in India are calling for a “Blue Diwali” to use this twist in calendar events to spread awareness on diabetes.

India has the second largest number of people with diabetes, after China. And the novel coronavirus is known to have a worse impact on people with co-morbities like diabetes. In fact, instances of Covid-induced diabetes are also being seen, said Dr Shashank R Joshi, Chair, International Diabetes Federation (South East Asia), at a “COVIDiabetes” event. “Every six seconds, we are losing people with diabetes on the planet,” he says, cautioning that sugar was the next tobacco in terms of its health impact, and promoting its excess consumption was “detrimental to health”.

The sugar controversy comes even as countries, including India, deal with the twin troubles of malnutrition and obesity. As questions emerge whether the Health Ministry was aware of the pro-sugar campaign, those with a sweet-tooth will need to choose wisely on their sugar-laced indulgences.

Published on November 08, 2020

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