26 November 2018, Singapore

According to the WHO, the number of adults living with diabetes has quadrupled since 1980.

The cost of the disease on health, mortality and economies around the world every year is substantial, and the global annual healthcare expenditure on diabetes was over USD$700 billion in 2017.

Not too long ago, diabetes was primarily seen as a rich country disease, and there was not much global consciousness – even amongst governments – of the need to act. The reality is that diabetes is a pressing global health issue, plagues countries rich and poor, and has to be arrested to avoid the high cost in lives and national well-being everywhere.

Diabetes is of particular concern for us in Singapore. Already, almost half a million Singaporeans live with the disease – that’s nearly 1 in 9 persons, which is higher than the global prevalence.

If nothing is done to change the trend, 1 in 7 persons will have diabetes in Singapore by 2050 (on an age-standardised basis). Without adjusting for ageing, it will be 1 in 6 persons.
Tackling diabetes requires three mindset shifts, Government mindset shifts, Employer mindset shift and individual mindset shift

To support our efforts in catalysing these mindset shifts, we also need to identify and facilitate the spread of innovative solutions and strengthen partnerships in our joint efforts to tackle diabetes. There are many promising areas where innovation can be a game-changer, be it in technology, policy or behavioural nudges.

One example is Faesol (pronounced as “fay-soul”) – a Singaporean SME at the forefront of food innovation.

  • With the support given under HPB’s Healthier Ingredients Development Scheme (HIDS), Faesol has developed healthier, ready-to-mix Asian beverages for coffee shops and food service establishments.
  • Faesol leveraged its homegrown technologies and ingredients to match the taste and characteristics of sugar in food products, using powder processing capabilities to make beverage mixes that are free of preservatives, more shelf-stable, and easier to prepare. 
  • Local beverages, such as water chestnut, pearl barley and Roselle tea, can now taste good even with low sugar or no sugar. 
  • Faesol is now exporting its products to other countries, such as Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia.