• PALM Centre

Singapore the Food Heaven (Part 1): Trending health

The good news here in our lion city is that life expectancy is improving, with Singapore ranking third worldwide. The average life expectancy is 83.1 years old. Despite having lived longer, Statistics show that Singaporeans go through 8 years

of ill health during their old age.

Living longer sounds like a good thing, but living longer with quality health is something that we should work towards. Our lifestyle habits, eating habits or family history contribute mainly to the diseases we see now in Singapore.

Some common food related health diseases include:


Contributing to about 5% of adults and 20% of children, asthma is not necessarily a life-threatening condition. Left untreated however, asthma may cause permanent damage to the lungs and can even be fatal.

Some common triggers include Animal fur/ dander, Dust mites, Tobacco smoke and certain Foods (Avoid foods that contain sulphites (example: preserved foods), which are known to trigger asthma episodes in some individuals).


1 in 9 people in Singapore is diagnosed with diabetes and 1200 amputations are conducted each year due to diabetes. If not managed properly, serious conditions such as blindness, kidney failure, stroke and heart disease may happen. It is easy to prevent, and it should be prevented starting from a younger age. Prevention includes active lifestyle, conscious food choices and staying at an acceptable weight.

High blood pressure

Also known as hypertension, it is the most worrying as it is a silent killer. Many sufferers only realise they have it when major events happen, like stroke. About 24 percent of Singaporeans have it, with 1 in 4 not being aware of it. Lifestyle changes have to be made to prevent more serious complications like heart attacks. Prevention methods include cutting down on alcohol, weight control, quit smoking and stress relief.

Heart problems

Diet is closely linked to heart disease. Common heart problems include coronary artery disease, abnormal heart rhythms and heart muscle disease. 16 people die from heart problems in Singapore daily. More than 25% of deaths in 2016 is caused by heart problems.

Warning signs include shortness of breath, leg swelling, an increased heart rate as well as increased weight gain (escalating heart failure can lead to noticeable and fast weight gain in the form of liquid retention).

Watch out on salt intake as high sodium intake is directly linked to an increase in blood pressure which increases the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

High cholesterol is also a major contributor to heart attacks.

High cholesterol

This waxy substance can build up in arteries if taken in excess, leading to severe complications like artery disease, heart attacks or stroke. 1 in 6 Singaporeans are found to have high cholesterol. Foods in developed countries may be one of the causes of developing high cholesterol.

Some lifestyle habits that contribute to cholesterol build up include:

  1. Consuming deep fried foods, especially those using re-used oil, which produce harmful compounds that contribute to higher cholesterol.

  2. Consuming High amounts of saturated fats (meat and dairy)

  3. Inadequate soluble fibre that helps reduce the amount of LDL

Disease Mortality rate at a glance

Disease type vs % of death in 2018

cancer: 28.8%

Pneumonia: 20.6%

Ischemic heart disease: 18.1%

Cerebrovascular disease (incl stroke): 6%

External causes of morbidity & mortality: 4.3%

Hypertensive disease (incl hypertensive heart disease): 3%

Nephritis, nephritic syndrome & nephrosis: 3%

Other heart disease: 2.1%

Urinary tract infection: 2%

Chronic obstructive lung disease: 1.3%

Diabetes mellitus: 1.3%

Source: Ministry of Health

Up next: Singapore the Food Heaven (Part 2): more movement, less chronic diseases

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