Science shorts: Studies on sugar tax and ultraprocessed foods feature in our food science round-up

By Pearly Neo contact

- Last updated on GMT

Fiscal incentives like a sugar tax and lower-sugar subsidies to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption are unlikely to be effective, a new Singapore study reveals. ©Getty Images
Fiscal incentives like a sugar tax and lower-sugar subsidies to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption are unlikely to be effective, a new Singapore study reveals. ©Getty Images

Related tags: Editor's spotlight, science, Research, Malaysia, sugar tax

We take a look at the latest findings in food science, including the effects of sugar tax, underutilised foods, ultraprocessed foods consumption and more.

Sugar tax would have minimal impact on high-sugar beverage consumption, study reveals

Fiscal incentives like a sugar tax and lower-sugar subsidies to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption are unlikely to be effective​, a new Singapore study reveals.

The study found that both 'tax for high-sugar beverages' and 'subsidy for low-sugar beverages' yielded no significant effect on consumer choice.

It was published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity​.

Revealed: How under-utilised Malaysian crops could help combat the 'collapse of global nutrition

Scientists in Malaysia are looking to replace the world's Big Four crops with under-utilised options​ to help solve global food security issues, especially in Asia. 

“The world’s big four crops – wheat, rice, maize, and soybean – make up over 70% of the world’s food supply,”​ Professor Sayed Azam Ali, CEO, Crops For the Future (CFF) told FoodNavigator-Asia.

He added that over-dependency on the big four has also opened up doors for many potential food security issues, especially in terms of vulnerability.

Indonesian study reveals low consumption of ultraprocessed foods in Jakarta

A food consumption pattern study in Jakarta revealed low consumptions of ultraprocessed foods in the city​.

The findings could reinforce previous data suggesting that developing countries consume less ultraprocessed foods as compared to developed ones.

The study was conducted based on the Jakarta Individual Food Consumption Survey 2014. Researchers aimed to analyse processed and ultraprocessed food consumption in Jakarta, classify the foods consumed, and calculate their contribution to overall energy and nutrient intake.

Consumption of Western food can raise cancer risks in Arab men: US expert

Consumption of Western food high in omega-6, red meat, and sugar increases the risk of developing prostate cancer, as observed in Arab men​.

The “risk could change quickly”​ if they adopt a burger-and-fries Western-style diet in place of traditional meals, said David Levy, an urologist at Cleveland Clinic. 

Levy observed that when Arab men first move to North America or Northern Europe, their rates of prostate cancer did not initially diverge significantly from others back home. However, their sons, who were born and raised in the West, displayed similar levels of the illness as their peers of European descent.

“When men of Middle Eastern and North African origin adopt a westernised lifestyle, their risk revert to that of the majority of the westernised population,​” he said. “I think dietary factors have a very, very strong role in that.”

Australian scientists are unlocking the health benefits of lentil flour added to wheat-based baked goods

Research by Charles Sturt University (CSU) and Agriculture Victoria aims to increase lentil consumption down under by developing new products that will deliver health benefits​ to consumers and boost returns for producers.

Australia produces around 500,000 tons of lentils annually, with 95% of the crop exported, mainly to the Indian subcontinent where lentils are widely consumed.

“Although lentils are gaining popularity as a food source in western diets, wheat is the staple grain used for manufacturing food products,”​ said lead author Drew Portman.

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