In a bid to boost sugar consumption in India, industry body has launched a new online campaign to bust myths about sugar and its health effects. Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) unveiled a knowledge portal meetha.org to counter "negative publicity" and educate people about the health benefits of consuming the sweetener.
The campaign is aimed at reducing the oversupply of sugar in India. The production is expected to rise by 13 percent this year to 31m tonnes, BBC reported.
"India is still a developing nation where a large population especially the poor consume sugar as an inexpensive and immediate source of energy. They can't and should not be deprived of their sugar, because of some unfounded and misleading campaigns against it," ISMA said in a statement.
The website says, "www.meetha.org stands for providing information around healthy living. In no way, the contents of this portal should be misconstrued as promoting over consumption of sugar. After all, like all things in life, sugar and sweetness are best enjoyed in moderation."
India is the world's biggest sugar consumer. However, the per capita sugar consumption is around 19 kg per person, much lower than the world average of 23.5 kg. The per capita consumption growth of sugar in India between 2000 and 2016 has been amongst the lowest in the world at around 1.25 percent per year, based on a simple average.
Consistent surplus of sugar production is depressing sugar price. Consequently, sugarcane farmer’s dues have increased due to lower capability of sugar industry to pay the farmers.
'The consumption has also remained stagnant at around 19 kg per person for the last couple of years. It could be due to various factors including economic growth, consumption pattern and consumption expenditure among others. However, it is important that people receive the right information about sugar consumption so as to encourage people who are not consuming the right quantity to do so," Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary, Food & Public Distribution Department had said during the virtual launch of the portal.
ISMA's new website features articles with titles like "Sugar and healthy living go hand-in-hand. A balanced lifestyle is key to it."
It also features recipes for sweets and cautions against artificial sweeteners, suggesting that it can have health consequences. The portal has sections like Sugary truths, Types of sugar, Trivia, among others.
ISMA's campaign is in contrast to the World Health Organization's approach, which has asked people to reduce sugar consumption as sweeteners are associated with a variety of health conditions such as obesity and diabetes.