First study on adult milk consumption habits in Singapore finds that half of Singaporean adults do not consume any milk, ignoring the importance of milk in health maintenance and prevention
SINGAPORE, November 14 2017 – A first-of-its-kind report launched today shows that 50% of Singaporeans are missing out on the nutritional benefits of milk by not drinking just a glass a day. Low consumption is compounded by an ignorance of the nutritional benefits of milk.
Milk Perceptions – A Study of Milk Consumption Patterns in Singapore (Milk Perceptions) is a report on the first study of the key drivers and barriers of milk consumption among adult Singaporeans. Authored by Dr Kalpana Bhaskaran, Domain Lead for Applied Nutrition at Temasek Polytechnic, the study draws on published research and the findings from a focus group study conducted earlier this year.
“We were surprised to learn through our findings that while Singaporeans generally enjoy an abundant availability of food and are consuming more calories than before, nutritionally many are still falling short on critical nutrients such as calcium and protein,” said Dr Kalpana Bhaskaran, Domain Lead for Applied Nutrition & Glycemic Index, Temasek Polytechnic. “This can be simply addressed by adjusting daily diets to get the best out of the food we eat. It is as simple as adding one glass of milk to our meals,” she said.
“In fact, milk is the most efficient way to obtain one’s daily nutrition needs. A single serving of milk provides as much calcium as 16 servings of spinach or three tablespoons of anchovies which is high in sodium,” Dr Kalpana added.
The research conducted shows that ingrained attitudes, mis-perceptions and behaviours are all preventing Singaporeans from drinking milk regularly. The study found that:
- Despite knowing the importance of milk for bone health, adult Singaporeans do not perceive milk to be important during adulthood. This places their bone health at risk as the calcium in bones needs to be replenished throughout life;
- Singaporeans are not aware of other benefits of milk, such as protein, Vitamins B, D, and A. This extends to an ignorance of the benefits of milk in reducing the onset of chronic diseases, including osteoporosis;
- Non-milk drinkers do not drink milk as they dislike the taste of milk;
- Singaporeans do not consider milk to be an integral part of Singapore’s food culture, unlike in the West, where it is used regularly in cooking and/or consumed on its own; and
- Singaporeans severely overestimated the fat content in full cream milk (46% as compared to the actual 4%); many also incorrectly perceived that UHT milk is less nutritional than fresh milk.
“The lack of motivation among adult Singaporeans to change their daily diets despite being presented with evidence of the benefits of milk in preventing chronic diseases such as osteoporosis and diabetes is particularly alarming. This is especially worrying given our rapidly ageing society, when one in four Singaporeans above age 65 will develop a chronic disease,” said Dr Kalpana, who also sits on the council of the Diabetic Society of Singapore.
Interventions recommended by participants in the focus groups include public health campaigns targeting families and Singaporeans of all generations; increasing the accessibility and availability of milk; and increasing education and awareness of milk’s benefits.
Milk Perceptions is the result of a collaboration between Dr Kalpana Bhaskaran and FrieslandCampina, one of the world’s largest dairy companies, to identify gaps and solutions to improve the nutrition and healthcare outcomes among Singaporeans. As a first step towards raising greater awareness, FrieslandCampina is partnering with ActiveSG to bring nutrition and exercise programmes to preschools in Singapore. The Nurture Kids programme was launched in August 2017.
Hendro Poedjono, Corporate Affairs Director, Consumer Products Asia, FrieslandCampina, said: “The results from Milk Perceptions highlights the need to educate and encourage Singaporeans to be more proactive in caring for their diets and health. FrieslandCampina Asia has been working closely with the public sector to address the gaps in health education, and we hope that through our partnership with ActiveSG on our new Nurture Kids initiative we teach them the importance of balanced diet and benefits of milk, and cultivate positive behaviours at a young age which will carry through to their adult years in the future.”
 National Nutrition Survey 2010
 The Straits Times, 2016