PM Lee Hsien Loong quipped at National Day Rally 2017 about how some of his ministers didn’t find brown rice palatable even though it was a healthier alternative to white rice.
They can afford to choose.
Eating at hawker centres is staple for most Singaporeans, and choosing brown rice is simply more expensive.
Even if one wanted to go down the healthy home-cooked meal path, they’d have to pay 5 times the price for brown rice – for S$5 you can get 5kg of white rice for 1kg of brown rice at NTUC Fairprice.
Which option would most pick, especially low-income earners?
Sugar, or starch, is essentially is cheap alternative which provides energy.
At hawker centres, we’re swamped with food that’s high in starch content.
They’re the cheapest options on the menu, food like wanton mee, carrot cake, fishball noodles.
Possibly 80 percent starch with a bit of protein thrown in for good measure.
Unless, you can survive on chicken rice every day (there’s more meat, but it’s still bad for you because it has a high sodium content)
It’s not uncommon to see people queuing up for economic rice and ordering “more rice” because piling on the meat and protein would cost money
Still, there’s little choice, again for low-income earners.
Hawker food is also a source of convenience.
If you take public transport (and we’ve seen how erratic the train service can be), how much spare time do you have to cook at home, or to exercise?
You’ve to wake up early at 6am to get ready for work and leave the house in case there’s a public transport disruption.
After work, by the time you reach home, it’s already coming to 8pm.
For families with kids, the struggle is amplified.
It’s a matter of time and money.
If the government is serious about this “war on diabetes”, it must take concrete steps to help people, especially those most vulnerable, to achieve a healthier lifestyle.
The options now are just not good enough.