Former NMP schools PM Lee: “Eating healthy is often not a choice for the low-income”

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Former Nominated Member of Parliament Calvin Cheng has asserted that the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s suggestions for healthy living might be problematic for underprivileged citizens to follow, in a Facebook post this evening.

In his annual National Day Rally speech this evening, the PM waxed lyrical about the importance of healthy eating and leading an active lifestyle and warned Singaporeans of the dangers of diseases like diabetes which pose a threat to seniors and the young alike.

He outlined that Singaporeans should see a doctor, exercise, be more conscious of their diet, and cut out sugar to avoid contracting the disease which may lead to severe consequences like blindness, impotence, or death due to organ failure.

He also offered alternative diet options like brown rice instead white rice, saying “It is precisely because you are not worried, that I am worried.”

Calvin Cheng decisively countered the PM’s suggestions:

Eating healthy is often not a choice for the low-income.
For example, PM Lee encourages people to eat brown rice and wholemeal bread. However, brown is more expensive than white rice; wholemeal bread is more expensive than white bread.
Eating out healthily is also more difficult for the low-income. Hawker food is often oily and unhealthy, but affordable. Low-income people cannot afford to go to a yuppy cafe and order Quinoa with Organic Chicken Breast.
I think the solution will have to be a mix of taxes and subsidies. For non-essentials such as soft drinks, a sugar tax can be imposed. For staples, such as rice and bread, subsidising the healthier versions can be an option.
If diabetes is a crucial issue, then making sure that low-income people have a real choice to eat healthily should be a national priority.
Even exercise is harder for the low-income. If one has a car, waking up earlier to exercise for 40 mins is a real choice. However if one has to rely on public transport, or have to work two jobs to put food on the table, time is a luxury. Gym memberships, even at community centres, cost money. When one is dog-tired from work, one does not want to take the stairs nor walk 10,000 steps.
Sometimes we have to understand that poverty limits choices. Many policies by design have to target the median, but we must never forget those at the tail-end of the curve that does not have the freedom to make many decisions that can improve their lives.

Eating healthy is often not a choice for the low-income. For example, PM Lee encourages people to eat brown rice and…

Posted by Calvin Cheng on Sunday, 20 August 2017

 

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178 comments

  1. Talk is cheap! After talking about the subject is there any further action to be taken or just talk coz he is genuinely concern!? Or he has nothing to talk about? Anything on bigger overall picture of the world situation, any ideas to overcome the regression of our economy? Retrenchment is on the rise? Is the Govt taking any control?

  2. Hazel Soh says:

    Staying healthy is a choice. It got nothing to do with poverty. Anyway how poor can u be frankly speaking. As long as there is a will there is a way! Losers make excuses!!!

  3. Having been working in Singapore for more than two decades and living there for 5 years, the PM and most of the government is totally out of touch with the lower income side of Singapore. I spend most of my time in these areas. No, I am not an expat working in the CBD in a bank. I wonder when the last time the PM hung out in HDB’s in Seletar, Simpang, Queesntown or Boon Lay? I have seen poverty as hard as most things in Hong Kong’s lower income and conditions just as bad as Vietnam and bad parts of Bangkok and Jakarta and Manila. Outside might be decent, but it is hard inside the HDB’s. These people have no money at all. He is out of touch. Helping them and getting involved is the answer. They, and many in Singapore cannot even afford the expenses, let alone start to attempt to buy healthy food. Expenses in Singapore are atrocious and is why I decided to take our family and leave. Brown rice in hawkers in these areas?? Right! He really is so out of touch. Its easy to say all of this when you make $200K per month and have everything you could ever need. We all know that putting him in Seletar on a salary of any low income family who struggles with 6 people in an older 2-3 bedroom HDB, and asking him to exercise and buy brown rice and cut out sugar knows that there is no way he could do it. Out of touch government and its clear as day. makes me sick every time I am in a hawker and seeing 80 year olds cleaning the tables and working. With the amount of money Singapore has…feed and take care of your elderly and poor. Sickening.

  4. Having been working in Singapore for more than two decades and living there for 5 years, the PM and most of the government is totally out of touch with the lower income side of Singapore. I spend most of my time in these areas. No, I am not an expat working in the CBD in a bank. I wonder when the last time the PM hung out in HDB’s in Seletar, Simpang, Queesntown or Boon Lay? I have seen poverty as hard as most things in Hong Kong’s lower income and conditions just as bad as Vietnam and bad parts of Bangkok and Jakarta and Manila. Outside might be decent, but it is hard inside the HDB’s. These people have no money at all. He is out of touch. Helping them and getting involved is the answer. They, and many in Singapore cannot even afford the expenses, let along start to attempt to buy healthy food. Expense in Singapore is atrocious and is why I decided to take our family and leave. Brown rice in hawkers in these areas?? Right! He really is so out of touch. Its easy to say all of this when you make $200K per month and have everything you could ever need. We al know that putting him in Seletar on a salary of any low income family who struggles with 6 people in a 2-3 bedroom HDB, and asking him to exercise and buy brown rice and cut out sugar knows that there is no way he could do it. Out of touch government and its clear as day.

  5. John Ng says:

    Out of nowhere this idiot Calvin Cheng talk sense.
    Must be due to Hungry Ghost Festival round the corner prevented him utter rubbish thru his mouth.

  6. Kenny Tay says:

    Talk for the rich n powerful people is easy….they have money n time…eat what and do what is within their control….

    For the poor or even average citizen…how to eat or do as what he says..so easy meh….

    Btw, what organic this or that…back in old days everything were organic but they says high tech food is better n faster so price up due to this….
    Now they says organic is good and high tech are no good, full of pesticides n price up again…..where on earth is there organic…the earth n sea or oceans and rain are alrdi so poluted…
    Rubbish to organic food.

  7. I agree what this guy said. I was eating mama fried rice ystday, when Pm was, singing about eating healthy. Many ppl don’t have that luxurious life style. We know diabetes is dangerous, poor ppl cannot afford to get that, but they try their best to control their diet.

  8. Mike Lo says:

    During the time Goh Chok Tong was prime minister – he had lead a campaign where hawkers are forbidden to use any Mono Sodium Glutamate as seasoning but this has seem to lapsed. Ban the sale of Red Bull permanently as it contains more sugar then a can of coke.

  9. SY Wong says:

    For those who stayed in the ivory tower for all of his whole life, walked with a red carpet laid using citizen’s monies, what do he really know about the reality of the common folks that live from hand to mouth and having a hard time when exception surfaced. I have not bother with the NDP speech since 10 yrs back as it is full of nonsenses and stage play. Just waiting for a real good government to take over to terminate the suffering & hardship of native citizens that went thru the tough time with Singapore in the earlier days.

  10. The advice given by our PM Lee is for our future generation n NOT the present middle n old aģe generation.The old age generation are so used to eat n drink their favourite food n drink n for them to change the habit is imposible for the younger generation it is good for them to adhere the advices given by our PM Lee.For instance me myself have been drinking Coke for the 60 years do you think I should stop drinking it (Coke). No way because it is my favourite drink even when I wake in the middle of the night or early in the morning I would go to the fridge n grap a can of Coke n drink it.My health is ok.Thanks.

  11. Getting million dollars salary to do the job of nurse educator of Health Promotion Board!
    The cynical truth is the father talk about the welfares of citizens but the son talk about his personal welfares!
    CDAC give $150 per month to unemployed patients for a period of 3 months!
    How to choose healthy meals with $5 a day ???
    Is he talking sense when the retirement cash of the poor senior citizens are locked up?
    No money how to eat healthily?
    Ah Loong only know how to collect GST, COE, PUB, etc but did he really have a heart for the poor senior citizens of Singapore ???
    My heart cries out to God, when I see the crippled man selling tissue papers for $1 at hawker centre and some are singing the sad melody and worst of all, the Chinese women searching from dustbin to dustbins looking for paper cardboard and aluminum cans !!!
    The pressing issues of senior citizens becoming beggars as some are without CPF funds at all
    LKY will return to Singapore to slap him hard this time, especially he did not take care of his siblings and did not honour his written will
    Will Mediacorpse please retain 7 pm drama series than to rob the leisure time of citizens, please give us the choice, just use one channel for his self-centred non edifying speech

  12. For low income family. Exercise is still possible with our current transport issue. With MRT down often people has to walk more and run to catch their transport. Maybe that is the grand plan with our transport system

  13. Johnny Ang says:

    He is thinking of taxes, not about economy, our fuck up train services which is on going,how to create more jobs for Singaporeans. Singaporeans need to survive

  14. Facebook Profile photo
    Koffee Koffee ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Calvin Cheng comments make sense. There’s nothing wrong in his comments.
    I am no anti or pro.
    We should welcome all comments provided no provocation comments.

  15. Alex Lim says:

    He only always see himself and put himself as benchmark.
    He can have 2 times cancer n treatment twice to recovery with whose money we do not speak of.
    And we recently have a uncle who had his PET scan cancelled because he could not pay the $600 deposit.
    God know how many more such case that were not reported.
    Speaking about seeing doctor more often, how many can actually afford?
    Singapore had become a country where alot Singaporeans always say: in Singapore, 可以死,不可以病。
    Mean : can die, but dun fall sick

  16. Rita Samad says:

    I back to defer. Poverty may limit your choices of better lives , but not your health. You can still exercise at your own time. White rice , eat in moderation is fine if you can’t afford brown rice. Fasting is also good at times. I’ve been through hardships with 3 kids and immobile Mom in tow. I worked 3 jobs to sustain a family of 5. I didn’t go to the gym, I exercised at work when there is time.
    Keeping healthy is your choice.
    Keeping well for your mind and body despite your situation, is your choice despite your poverty.

    However I agree on some issues Calvin pointed out.
    Poverty shld not happen here in Singapore, when we have surpluses . The ministers can get paid a little lesser if poverty rises.

    1. Facebook Profile photo
      Joey SilverHawke ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Asking d MPs to have a pay cut during recession is jyz like telling em to take a bus ride or eat at hawker center n forgo their luxurious lifestyle.who agreed to increase mrt fares,taxi fares,all dis prices increment passed by who?yr guess r better then me

  17. How many of us remember why NTUC Fairprice was started in the early 70s in the Dempsey Road complex, To provide cheaper grocery/food for the lower-income people mostly union members in inflation hit Singapore. To qualify as a member, I paid $50.00 to be a member of NTUC Fairprice. I still own that shares today. Does NTUC serve that need today – a cheaper alternative for quality food? It cannot because it has now become a corporation with highly paid CEOs and board members for which reason NTUC Fairprice has to make big profits. Maybe the government can look at ways for NTUC Fairprice provide the food needed to stay healthy at a lower cost.

  18. l think we are seriously in trouble when the leader of the country talk about micro-managing issues which the various ministers should tackle. we have bigger problems with the trains, co-hesiveness of the people, loss of jobs , challenges of port status etc…I think either he is out of touch or he is trying to win the populaces ‘ hearts and minds.

  19. LI Jorge says:

    He know our singapore is getting from bad to worst if he start saying things that is good economic in our country then it is big lier. He can’t so talk abt health care full of shit

  20. Eating healthy ? Please la.. When you eat outside, the business man doesnt care whether the food are healthy .. They take the cheapest mean to meet the requirement set by the government.. Talking cock.. Influx all the foreigner in, rise cost of living till everyone in the family must go out to work, no cook food, no home still think of eating healthy and have more baby.. ? In singapore , baby born are like orphans. Take care by maid, nursery etc..

  21. Under the wholesome message is an insidious plan to implement taxes, raise cost of living and creating more hardship for the people under the pretext of doing good. Since when he cared about the people’s welfare without hurting the people. Ironic but that’s him.

  22. Meme Yo says:

    I don’t think this NMP even gets the plot. Rice, steamed vegetables and tofu is the original healthy food that came before quinoa and other exotic “health foods”.

  23. WH Wong says:

    A bit like the saying that you should go for fish if you could not afford to eat chicken lor! These aristocrats elevated to a golden spoon status would not know how the lower thirty if not fifty percentile live with 1+k monthly earning while “owning” a affordable HDB flat…….

  24. Maybe HE will instruct NTUC mart to source for low price olive oil. But it must learn from its mistake of low price butter which bevomes black the minute it hits the pan. HE is the one who thinks harm in mee siam. And his minister gets $8 heart operations. His perm sec goes to learn french cooking in France. Who in the govt knows what life is like for Sinkies who loses their lunch to FT and new citizens. Some ministers were products of Malaysia.

  25. Facebook Profile photo
    Mary Wilson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes and put on Metformin on June 26th, 2016. I started the ADA diet and followed it 100% for a few weeks and could not get my blood sugar to go below 140. Finally i began to panic and called my doctor, he told me to get used to it. He said I would be on metformin my whole life and eventually insulin. At that point i knew something wasn’t right and began to do a lot of research. Then I found Lisa’s diabetes story (google ” HOW EVER I FREED MYSELF FROM THE DIABETES ” ) I read that article from end to end because everything the writer was saying made absolute sense. I started the diet that day and the next morning my blood sugar was down to 100 and now i have a fasting blood sugar between Mid 70’s and the 80’s. My doctor took me off the metformin after just three week of being on this lifestyle change. I have lost over 30 pounds and 6+ inches around my waist in a month. The truth is we can get off the drugs and help myself by trying natural methods

  26. Facebook Profile photo
    Mary Wilson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    WOW. I was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes and put on Metformin on June 26th, 2016. I started the ADA diet and followed it 100% for a few weeks and could not get my blood sugar to go below 140. Finally I began to panic and called my doctor, he told me to get used to it. He said I would be on metformin my whole life and eventually insulin. At that point i knew something wasn’t right and began to do lots of research. Then I found Lisa’s diabetes story http://mydiabetesday.com/i-finally-reversed-my-diabetes/ I read that article from end to end because everything the writer was saying made absolute sense. I started the diet that day and the next morning my blood sugar was down to 100 and now i have a fasting blood sugar between Mid 70’s and the 80’s. My doctor took me off the metformin after just three week of being on this lifestyle change. I have lost over 30 pounds and 6+ inches around my waist in a month. The truth is we can get off the drugs and help myself by trying natural methods

  27. Johann Teh says:

    An example of ivory tower living & thinking – totally detached from the ground… Takes somebody staying in a HDB or condo to remind these miws how detached and off the mark their thinking is!!
    For once, kudos, Calvin!!!

  28. He is correct but brown rice or whole meal bread is not the main problem. Eating proteins instead of carbohydrates to derive the energy, in other words meat instead of starchy food, is a greater problem. One of the more healthy options is to eat a western diet instead of hawker food which is high in carbohydrate.

    1. Ummul Ammatullah Of course, it is not to take protein at the exclusion of other food. A balanced diet is exactly what should be right as the digesting effort is distributed among the organs responsible for breaking down proteins, carbo, fat, vegetables etc, so that no single organ is over-stressed. Unfortunately hawker food is very unbalanced and heavily carbo in content. Western meals tend to be more balanced.

      I tried once on a long overseas trip where the daily meal was all entirely western. My blood sugar dropped to within normal range, at least 2 mols below the usual readings.

    2. AK Tan There is one diabetic drug used as a longevity drug even for people without symptoms of diabetes – metformin, basically for its power to reduce blood sugar. So sugar and carbohydrates do matter in life expectancy. You cannot compare overall natural life expectancy of countries and conclude that the diet of the country has no impact on life expectancy. Life expectancy of a country is dependent on many factors other than diet but diet and medical care as well as environment seems to be major factors. It is surprising that Mao Zedong improved the life expectancy of his people by about 7 and 8 years at the end of his term, despite the many mistakes he had made. It must have been improvement in all these factors. Actually eating more protein and less carbohydrate is a recognized dietary recommendation for diabetics.

    3. AK Tan says:

      Statistically, there is no evidence to show that average lifespan in longer in western countries than developed Asia countries despite diet differences

  29. PM Lee have no idea what to said in his national day speeches instead of telling people what to and do, who doesn’t know that our mother is a woman, many peoples have no choice especially things are now so expensive everything is up, everyone wanted a healthy lifestyle and if you are struggling to meet months end so many mouth to feed, PM Lee shd think abt the cost of living in Singapore why is everything is going up .

    1. Shows he is off the ground. He is so blessed, dual income, his wife very highly paid president scholar, his children super intelligent. Also highly paid. So he is just so disconnected from the electorate. We need someone new who understands there is a big problem – everything is wrong for us. From loss of income to no money for food.

  30. Sas Karma says:

    Our wages are depressed, how do you think anyone can eat healthily when even the daily staples are increasing constantly! Stupid pm, you think all our salaries are like CEO’s earning, is it?

  31. Johann Teh says:

    Sugar tax, salt tax, oil tax, all kinds of food taxes coming. Soon!!
    Mark this, people!! Pinkie’s fangs showing – he’s gonna start sucking some more of your hard earned $$ again…

  32. CC objective is for the government to impose sugar tax!!! Everybody knew the lower income group cannot afford to eat healthily. Junk food is abundant and cheap to buy, even with subsidies to this group they will continue to eat these cheap junk food. On the other hand if sugar tax is impose, every living things living in Singapore got to pay the tax irregardless you consume any food that contains sugar.

  33. To Calvin Cheng

    PM Lee is only sharing, suggesting & encouraging ppl to eat right for better health.
    He didn’t insist tt all must follow his guidelines or did he categorize btw the wealthier and the poorer.

    There’s no need to categorize to the extreme – ‘poverty’?

    Quite obvious you do not socialize enough with the poorer ppl.
    Do you assume the poors hv no knowledge of healthier foods?

    Every one has a choice to eat all foods in moderation.

    Are you certain tt the poorer ppl’s food consists only of unhealthy foods ?

    Shall I assume you meant the wealthier ppl’s foods are all healthy foods?
    Why then do they also suffer from high cholesterol, diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, kidney disease etc as the poorer ppl?

    As humans, we can only offer assistance at our best to help the less fortunate.

    Read all the negative comments, do you know what you hv done?

    1. The PM is addressing the nation is it not? Or PM is addressing to the specific well to do people only? If it’s to the nation, that includes those in Low income and poverty as well so what Calvin says is not wrong. Your perspective are very narrow to have said it shouldn’t include the extreme.

  34. Eric Seow says:

    The cheebye kia is lucky to be alive. The ISIS have been looking for him for more than a year since he had suggested to kill all their children. Please keep clear of him at least 100meter ( the killing zone distance ). Nabey.

  35. Gary Ng says:

    The Health Promotion Board should do the talking, PM has nothing else to say? Like SMRT breakdown, Foreigner influx, Low Birth Rate? I think we are more concern about that, as eating healthily, who doesn’t know? school already teaching kids, we are not kids anymore..

    1. Facebook Profile photo
      Joey SilverHawke ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      During lky time,it was i noted dat he said sg over populated,cut down on birth rate….two is enuff,now its low birth rate n incentives r given to tempt u to hav more kids.

    2. Avoid mentioning what we want to mention means he is avoiding the most important stuff to us citizens. Either no guts to face the music and no solutions to face the future. We really need a new leadership to build not fight fires.

  36. Jonus Jun says:

    I think as a PM there are more important things for him to take care, take note and take action. I feel it is rather pathetic for Singapore that he has to micro manage things like preschool education, diabetes, brown rice, soft drinks and drinking water..what i can only think is that he is trying to play it safe this year,a mainly due to his family dispute and up and coming PE..

    1. After his father died, total lack of ideas. Fight with his siblings, cry about something that happened when he was 13. Think he is in regression. Give him a pacifier.

  37. When you have someone from the establishment like Calvin calling the pm out for his statements you know that this Government has lost the plot. They have totally become bereft of ideas and playing their record over and over again hoping it would stick with their supporters and independents. Where and what is your vision for the country besides living healthily stating the obvious?

  38. If he is willing to pay for my food, i sure would start eatting healthy…
    I jus dont get it, everything is so expensive n we are sometimes so tight in the pocket n here we have someone telling us wat to do….

  39. If the issues highlighted at NDR2017 by a PM can be no less effectively addressed by an (ex) NMP drawing $16k per month, is what the PM delivers worth the millions he is paid every year?

  40. The very same guy who tell someone to kill children (was it him ? Sound familiar) finally say something that is so obvious and intelligent. Something that a retarded PAP members will never say.

  41. Does he even know the difference in price for extra virgin olive oil and vegetable oil? Please supply lifetime supply of extra virgin olive oil and all organic food to my house ok. Rubbish.

    1. Of cos he doesn’t know. He don’t do grocery shopping. His many maids do it for him. Beside his dollar note is too large for the cashier to change with his million dollars salary.

    1. CC objective is for the government to impose sugar tax!!! Everybody knew the lower income group cannot afford to eat healthily. Junk food is abundant and cheap to buy, even with subsidies to this group they will continue to eat these cheap junk food. On the other hand if sugar tax is impose, every living things living in Singapore got to pay the tax irregardless you consume any food that contains sugar.

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