Is “Less Sugar” Always More Healthy?

During a parliament session Senior Minister of State (SMS) for Health Chee Hong Tat attributed the increased cost of “healthier” food options to lack of demand.

“During the initial phase when the healthier products are being introduced, they will have to go through this phase where consumers are getting used to it and the demand is not quite picking up,” he said.

“So when you produce it and there’s inadequate economies of scale, the merchant finds it difficult to price it at a very competitive level.”

Mr Chee was responding to Member of Parliament for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Chong Kee Hiong, who asked why healthier foods tend to be more expensive than less healthy options.

As for his question on the price disparity, Mr Chong clarified that he was referring to two variations of the same brand of kaya. The low sugar option costs S$1 more, he said.

Source: Healthier food costs more because slow demand leads to inadequate economies of scale: Chee Hong Tat

Sugar 2xmacro

Out of interest, I went to take a look at the two types of kaya from Fairprice private label:
Fairprice Nonya Kaya – Less Sugar 400G – $3.95
FairPrice Nonya Kaya 410G – $2.65

What is kaya jam?
It’s a deliciously sweet curd made of caramelized sugar, coconut, and eggs that’s infused with pandan, a subtly nutty flavored, bright green leaf.
Source: Singapore Stories: Kaya Jam

Below is a comparison table of the macro-nutrients.

Not only does the less sugar version contain more calories, it also contains MORE carbohydrates and LESS protein.

To reduce the sugar, they added maltitol, a cheap sugar alcohol that has half the calories of sugar per gram and actually cost less than sugar for the same unit of sweetness

So is the “healthier” option always healthier?

Best to be a smart consumer and always remember to check the nutrition label.



  1. I’m glad that you did your research on this and decided to share! I know so many people who will just automatically buy the “sugar free” option, and I always think “well what did they put in it instead then?”. It might not be sugar, but it may very well be something else that equally as bad for you. I agree with you, it’s always best to check the nutrition label 🙂


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