Life is sweeter with less sugar: Is Sugar the next slayer to Tobacco?

The Diabetes Association of Sri Lanka (DASL) embarked on an innovative Education and Awareness [E & A] Campaign “The Sugar Trail“ which was launched on World Diabetes Day from 2011 – 2016. It targets persons of all ages. The campaign was supervised by Dr Mahen Wijesuriya, the Honorary Secretary of the DASL and Honorary Director of the National Diabetes Centre.

Sugar Trail of the Diabetes Association of Sri Lanka:

2011 - Birth of the ‘ Fork Spoon’ was witnessed by many coffee shop customers in Colombo on 14th November World Diabetes Day. It is a teaspoon serrated like a fork where the sugar trickles off. Psychologically you feel guilty when you reach for more as you get less of sugar. Printed, electronic and social media were used as tools to spread the word on this concept.

2012/2013 – ‘Seeni Meanie’ (SM) is a trilingual word; seeni means sugar in Sinhala and Tamil whilst meanie is mean in English. This is the trademark symbol for E & A of diabetes in Sri Lanka. This campaign was conducted in 80 schools island wide and they were empowered to research and create their own awareness campaign to educate their peers, teachers, parents and community on diabetes and prevention through healthy lifestyles. Seeni Meanie Times was published in the kids corner for 6 months featuring the daring escapades of SM with many fun activities. Kids who interacted with the DASL were rewarded with SM accessories such as hats, masks, stickers and badges.

In 2013, we published a children’s story book “Life is sweeter with less sugar” written and illustrated by the award winning author Mrs. Sybil Wettasinghe. It highlighted that youngsters can get diabetes and the need to eat healthy and be active to prevent illness. 6000 books were distributed free to grade 5 kids in National schools in the Western Province.

2014 - DASL signed a 10 year agreement with Watawala Tea Ceylon Ltd to print an awareness trilingual logo on all tea packs with a message “Life is sweeter with less sugar”. They have 40% market share nationally.

On WDD 2014, #1every6seconds was launched to highlight the little known fact that Diabetes kills as many as Tobacco. Video produced was uploaded on youtube

#1every6seconds was showcased by us to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) President at the South East Asia regional meeting in Mauritius October 2014. Our campaign caught his eye and he agreed that IDF was the appropriate vehicle to carry a global advocacy to reduce sugar consumption. The result was the IDF Framework for Action on Sugar May 2015.

2015 – Campaign #aneysweet was launched on WDD 2015 - 16. Aney is a Sinhalese slang word which means “oh that’s” / “Wow that’s”. Increased sugar consumption boosts “happy hormones” which gives pleasurable sugar highs like other addictive substances. The fact that sugar is addictive is a little known fact and needs publicity.

DASL is lobbying the Ministry of Health to introduce graphic pictures of complications on the sugar sachets or packs through legislation. In the meantime, DASL is partnering with Jetwing Hotels [largest luxury hotel chain in Sri Lanka] to carry a warning message on all their sugar sachets and to reduce the sugar content from 7 to 5 grams.

Their hotel buffets will also feature 3 sugar free deserts on a regular basis. E & A sessions and Train the trainers programmes are ongoing with hotel staff on primary prevention of diabetes through healthy lifestyles.

2016 – ‘Sugar crime’ – A murder victim’s body was outlined with sugar. This stunt campaign caught the eye and shook the public into realization that a killer was on the prowl and SUGAR, the serial killer was finally caught in the act! This was displayed in many prime public places in Colombo.

#Test2prevent, IDF global theme for WDD 2016 to screen persons for diabetes and for risk factors and to prevent through advice on healthy lifestyles. This is evidence based translation of the research done in collaboration with Kings College London “Diabrisk-SL“ where our commitment to primarily prevent is highlighted.

Screening Packages

Standard Screening Package

Includes FBS / Lipid Profile / HbA1c / Serum creatinine /Urine Albumin/Urine Sugar / Urine albumin creatine ratio / ECG /Eye check including fundal photography / Neuropathy Assessment / Full physical assessment / Doctor’s Consultation

Executive Screening Package

Includes FBS / Lipid Profile / HbA1c / Liver Profile / Renal Profile / ECG / Eye check including fundal photography / Neuropathy Assessment / Full physical assessment / Doctor’s Consultation