A Glass of Milk a Day to Keep Diabetes and Hypertension at Bay

In observation of World Milk Day that falls on 1 June 2017, the benefits of milk have been highlighted in Singapore’s The Straits Times, which points to research carried out by the National University of Singapore (NUS), indicating that adults who drink at least one glass of cow’s milk every day face a lower risk of diabetes and hypertension.

According to the NUS study, adults who drink at least one 240ml glass of milk every day had a 12-per cent-lower risk of diabetes and a six-per cent-lower risk of hypertension, respectively. The study observed similar findings for consumers of a range of other dairy products.

Professor Koh Woon Puay, who led the study, was quoted as saying that the health benefits are applicable to all racial groups and ages. The study also found that, on the whole, people of Asian heritage drank less milk, as compared to those from other countries and regions.

“Dairy is recommended as one of the pillars of heathy eating in countries across the world, including Singapore,” according to Research & Development (R&D) at FIA member company FrieslandCampina.

Commenting on the results of the research, FrieslandCampina’s R&D said, “Recently, one of the most comprehensive and rigorous assessments of the impact of dairy on a large spectrum of cardiometabolic disease risk factors was undertaken by a group of renowned researchers in Singapore. Data from this systematic review indicates that the consumption of dairy products (regular or high-fat dairy, yoghurt and cheese) shows either a neutral or favourable association in lowering the risk of hypertension and type 2 diabetes, which are clinical outcomes of cardiometabolic diseases. Whilst more research is warranted, evidence clearly points to the favourable impact of consuming dairy.”

Mr José Miguel Porraz Lando, Managing Director of Fonterra Brands Malaysia and Singapore, another FIA member, said, “The findings support the rise in dairy demand that we’re seeing across our markets in Asia. This is driven by knowledgeable and health-conscious consumers who are increasingly recognising the nutritional benefits dairy can provide to their health.”

“On top of this,” he added, “it is not just any source of dairy, but consumers today want to understand where their dairy products come from – we see many actively seeking milk that comes from grass-fed cows for better quality and nutritional value.”

The research carried out by NUS is pertinent for Southeast Asia, where health experts warn that the rise in obesity rates is likely to put more individuals at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which will have an impact on the health of the region’s population, as well as its health systems. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between the years 2000 and 2030, the prevalence rate of diabetes is expected to more than double in the ASEAN Six – Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – as obesity rates continue to rise.

Last year, Singapore’s Minister for Health, Mr Gan Kim Yong, announced Singapore’s war on diabetes and plans to set up a taskforce made up of representatives from government agencies, the private sector, and patient advocacy and caregiver groups to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and hypertension.

During the debate on his ministry's budget in Parliament, Minister Gan said that of the more than 400,000 diabetics in Singapore, one in three do not even know they have the disease; and among those diagnosed with the disease, one in three have poor control of it. Minister Gan revealed that if action is not taken, the situation will get worse, following predictions that one out of every three people in Singapore may end up diabetic.

This prediction tallies with a study commissioned by the Asia Roundtable on Food Innovation for Improved Nutrition (ARoFIIN), which indicates that the problem of obesity and NCDs, including diabetes, is more pronounced in Southeast Asia. According to the research carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), set to be launched on 1 June, the rising number of obese and overweight adults and young people in Asia is likely to put more individuals at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes rates are set to double in this region by 2030, based on data from EIU’s study.

Mr Matt Kovac, Executive Director at FIA, added that FIA and its network of national industry associations are working constructively with governments in Asia on nutrition and health issues, such as diabetes, with the goal of promoting a joined-up dialogue spanning all points of the supply chain and capturing the views of all stakeholders.

World Milk Day celebrates the important contributions of the dairy sector to sustainability, economic development, livelihoods and nutrition.

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