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Mumias Sugar is putting health of our kids at risk

Ok, there is common knowledge that kids, expectant mothers and other vulnerable groups including the aged require vitamins and minerals in higher doses than the normal daily recommendation for other age groups.

However, it is taking things too far to fortify sugar with vitamins to ensure kids and the vulnerable groups meet the daily requirements.

Sure, kids in developing countries are said not to get the required amount of Vitamin A. At the same time it is unethical to fortify a food that has adverse health effects with vitamins just to meet the daily requirements.

I am shocked to see billboards of Mumias sugar screaming that you get all the sweetness and vitamin A to boot. I think this is one of the irresponsible food fortifications I have come across in the recent past.

Diabetes is rocking our country.  Prevalence of diabetes in Kenya has skyrocketed in last decade and you know there is no treatment, but you have to manage the condition throughout lifetime.

Taking high amounts of sugar is one of the risk factors for diabetes. Although sugar itself is not a direct cause of diabetes, it is scientifically known that high sugared foods or high amounts of sugar in foods plays a role in developing diabetes. So why should a responsible company encourage taking sugar, disturbingly so to kids?

Diabetes II comes about when there is too much sugar in the blood system. This is how it comes about; When you consume foods high in sugar, an organ called pancreas releases an hormone called insulin to regulate the sugar in the blood. If the sugar in the food is moderate the insulin works perfectly.

If excessively sugary foods are consumed over a prolonged period of time, the pancreas overworks itself trying to mop up the excess sugar in the blood system. This happens by release of more of insulin. As the higher amounts of sugar are consumed, more and more insulin is released to help cope with excess sugar.  This may lead to failure of the pancreas due to overwork or toxicity as a result of excess sugar- leading to diabetes.

Sugar is also known to be a high calorie food and processed sugar provides empty calories. High calorie foods lead to body weight gain, setting stage to a plethora of chronic health conditions including obesity and an increase to diabetes risk.

By encouraging kids to take sugar at tender age just to meet recommended Vitamin A requirements sets the wrong precedent for the coming generations.

Probably there are better ways of ensuring kids get the recommended Vitamin A by fortifying healthy foods such as milk, breakfast whole grain cereals, yoghurt and similar foods.

 In addition there are natural foods rich in vitamins which include sweet potatoes, carrots, sweet pepper, spinach and other green leafy vegetables.

Have a healthy valentines day!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • GRACE EVA February 14, 2013, 12:17 pm


    • Joshua Arimi February 18, 2013, 4:55 am

      Thanks Grace. I am happy you know better. Keep healthy.

  • EVANS KITHINJI March 5, 2013, 4:34 pm

    Hey Arimi,

    Am not authorised to speak on behave of Mumias Sugar Co. but since the issues raised touches directly on my docket, i will reply to you as an individual.
    It is absurd to imply that MSC is encouraging kids to take more sugar now that its fortified. The fact of the matter is that almost every household whether rich or poor will consume sugar. So the vit A supplement was done as an advantage and not a motivator for people to consume sugar carelessly. Further more if the campaign by WHO goes through, the every food sold in the market will have to be fortified. Unga has done it, but did you increase the proportions of Ugali you used to eat since now you are using fortified Unga. The marketing strategy is that since the prices are the same (for both fortified and non-fortified), then why not take the fortified one to enjoy the advantage of supplement. Dont forget that the company has invested heavilly to make it a reality and no extra cost is charged on that product. Infact its more of CSR (CO-OPERATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY). Imake sugar and i take sugar but at allowable doses which i encourage everyone also to do. Anyway TOOO much of everything is poisonous.


    • Joshua Arimi March 8, 2013, 2:56 pm

      Thanks Evans for the comment.
      Because people drink alot of beer without taking food, it is unethical to fortify beer with nutrients due to its consequences on health. The same, fortifying sugar defies all ethical considerations. Please, if you want to know MSC is encouraging kids to take sugar, look at the billboards and the suggestion that you get all the sweetness and vitamins. Who is targeted with vitamins?

      I suggested fortification of milk (or any other healthy food like juices) which is taken by almost everykid as it is healthy and nutritious. But fortifying sugar, to me remains unethical. Fortifying Unga is fine as it is staple food not known to have any healthy issues. Although it is better to fortify whole grain flour than processed white flour. But again, why process grains as the processing removes all the vitamins only to add them again as fortification. Jut sell whole grain flour which is full of natural goodness of vitamins, fibre and minerals.