UBD to study effects of rare sugar on chronic diseases

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UNIVERSITI Brunei Darussalam will collaborate with Kagawa University to study the effectiveness of a type of rare sugar from Japan in the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases in the sultanate.

Dr Hjh Fazean Irdayati Hj Idris, senior lecturer at UBD’s PAP Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah Institute of Health Sciences, said the clinical trial aims to find out whether the rare sugar would reduce participants’ blood glucose and body weight levels.

The collaborative research between UBD and Japan’s Kagawa University will involve 60 participants who are obese, said the lecturer in an interview.

Participants will be subjected to a series of blood tests where their blood glucose and insulin levels will be checked before and after consuming the rare sugar.

“We hope to get 60 individuals from clinical and community settings made up of obese individuals, we want to see the effects of this rare-sugar on their weight and also on abdominal fat to see if the rare sugar will help the participants maintain, reduce or increase their weight compared to normal sugar,” she said.

According to Dr Hjh Fazean, rare sugars are 70 per cent sweeter than normal sugar but contain no calories and have the ability to reduce blood glucose levels and body weight.

The rare sugars are currently only available in Japan and have been developed in the Kagawa Prefecture.

“This study has worked in Japan, they found that it doesn’t cause a surge in glucose that normal sugar does. They are also doing a similar study in Thailand in showing that rare sugar does not cause diabetes,” said Dr Hjh Faezan.

She said the study will take place at the end of this year, with an aim to help reduce the prevalence of diabetes and the rising costs of NCDs in Brunei.

“From my anecdotal observation, I’ve noticed high sugar levels of individuals in Brunei. More and more people had been diagnosed with diabetes,” she said.

The lecturer attributed the surge in diabetic patients to changes in food culture and lifestyle, adding that the growth of Brunei’s food industry has led to more people consuming unhealthy food.

“As you can see, a lot of startup businesses in Brunei are trying to promote cakes, doughnuts and a lot of sugary food because it is very tasty and saleable among youth,” said the UBD lecturer.

“We hope the study will be a successful one so it (rare sugar) can be an excellent substitute of sugar and can bring economic interest in Brunei as well,” she said.

The Brunei Times