Dr Prashant Foto Bernama

The Dangers Of Sugar And Obesity

By Dr Prasant Subramaniam

Dr Prashant Subramanian, a primary care practitioner shares his concern over the prevalence of obesity among Malaysians. The Penang based doctor with an executive masters in preventive health, majoring in wellness, also points out the health hazard posed by sugar, a key ingredient for obesity.


Looking at the fact Malaysia has earned the dubious honour of having the highest obesity prevalence in Southeast Asia, I am compelled to write on the dangers posed by excessive sugar intake by Malaysians.

My concern is based on the 2017 Economist Intelligence Unit´s "Tackling Obesity in ASEAN " report that the prevalence of obesity was at 13.3 percent, while overweight was at 38.5 per cent. The report covered Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Where once obesity was something unfathomed, today it has become the trend setting body size our lifestyle has programmed us to be.


The number one addiction human beings have is craving for sugar. Diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can lead to overweight and obesity.

However, that is not all. It indirectly increases cancer risk over time.

Certain cancers including breast, prostate, colorectal and pancreatic are associated with obesity.

It´s true that sugar feeds every cell in our body even cancer cells. However, research shows that consuming sugar does not necessarily lead to cancer. It is what sugar does to your waistline that can lead to cancer.

Taking in too many sugar calories may result in weight gain. And, being overweight or obese puts you at a higher risk for cancer and other diseases.

And contrary to popular belief, fats don´t fatten you. Sugar does!

Now as we now know there are lots of refined sugar being consumed daily and when in excess they will end up expanding our waistline.

Reducing the sugar intake itself will not suffice as one may be oblivious to the hidden sugars in the foods consumed. When reading food labels, apart from looking for sugar as the first ingredient, one has to be aware of hidden sugar names: fructose, lactose, sucrose, maltose, glucose, dextrose.

Natural sugarsmolasses, agave nectar, honey and maple syrupcontain beneficial antioxidants but those, too, should be consumed in moderation.


Sugar is the energy source of cancer cells. Sugar is stored by the liver after digestion. These become your regular adipose tissue and excess sugar in turn is converted and stored as fats.

When excess sugar is stored as fat, body composition is compromised. More fat, less muscle. Meaning more toxins, less water in our circulation since muscle is 80 per cent water.

This in return will lead to a poor circulatory system and the process of detox and elimination is compromised. Immune system is lowered as a result and persistent chronic low grade inflammation will be rife.

More free radicals are produced leading to more oxidative stress. When these free radicals stage a Putsch or assault on our system, we now have an alteration of our genetic expression whereby our body´s natural ageing process is accelerated and our malignant cells get multiplied faster than it can be eliminated. The end product, tumour and cancer.

Looking at our lifestyle currently which is fast paced, full of genetically modified food produce, sedentary and high stressed one can only feel sorry for the next generation of kids.

Childhood obesity today borders nationally at the 25 percent mark. What we do know is that 80% of obese kids will be obese adults.

This figures will only be escalating exponentially as we keep on chasing our 1st world dreams with a 3rd world mentality in respect towards our health and awareness towards wellness.

The three major components of wellness are; keep circulation high; reduce oxidative stress and keep chronic low grade inflammation low.

Maintaining a healthy BMI is essential in the fight against Cancer, the 21st century killer.


If 80 percent of obese kids end up as obese adults we will be looking at a population with high risk for Diabetic, Obese and Cancer in the next 15-20 years.

Just look around us. What is the response towards this projected phenomenon? More and more Oncology centres are being built. More and more research is being poured into chemotherapy and oral disease modifying drugs

How much is actually being put towards awareness on a healthy lifestyle which in essence will give us the option for better healthier choices in lifestyle and ultimately better results?

I strongly believe that the powers that be and the public should focus on preventing this malignancy as it is 100 percent preventable.