Singapore Revs Up War on Diabetes

by Gabrielle Khalife
Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series

Policy Name: Healthier Ingredient Development Scheme (HIDS)



Population: 5.8 Million (Worldometers, 2018)


Through ongoing work on multiple fronts, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) is making a healthy lifestyle increasingly accessible to Singaporeans. In response to the rising diabetes epidemic in Singapore and in an effort to strengthen the War on Diabetes announced by the Ministry of Health in 2016, the HPB introduced the Healthier Ingredient Development Scheme (HIDS) in July 2017 to provide more focus on health promotion and disease prevention. HIDS encourages manufacturers to innovate and develop a variety of new healthier ingredients suited to local taste and to promote the intake of healthier ingredients, with a focus on oils with less saturated fat and whole grain staples such as rice and noodles. The National Nutrition Survey 2010 concluded that, for convenience and as a result of evolving lifestyles, Singaporeans are dining outside the home more frequently. Therefore, HIDS seeks to increase the use of healthier ingredients by the food service industry to subsequently improve the diet quality of Singaporeans when dining out.

Progress to date:

In 1998, the Health Promotion Board introduced a front-of-pack label, the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS), with defined nutrition criteria to empower Singaporeans to make informed food choices when grocery shopping. In 2003, the symbol was extended for use by food service operators such as hawkers and restaurants so that they could display it next to dishes meeting the criteria. A refreshed Healthier Choice Symbol, based on revised nutrient guidelines, was launched in September 2015.

In June 2014, the Health Promotion Board launched the Healthier Dining Programme (HDP) (formerly known as the Healthier Hawker Program launched in 2011). As part of the HDP, food operators (food courts, coffee shops, restaurants, cafes, etc) are encouraged to offer lower calorie meals and use healthier ingredients such as oils with reduced saturated fat content and/or whole grains, without compromising taste and accessibility. To increase the availability and use of healthier ingredients, the Health Promotion Board introduced a subsidy scheme called the Healthier Ingredient Development Scheme (HIDS) in July 2017 to encourage manufacturers to innovate and develop a variety of new healthier ingredients suited to local taste and members of the food industry to use them.

In July 2018, the Health Promotion Board introduced the Healthier Ingredient Promotion Scheme (HIPS) to promote the use of existing healthier ingredients by the food service industry.

Program/Policy Initiated: July 1, 2017

Food policy category: Disease Prevention

Program goals: To reduce the prevalence and incidence of preventable diet-related chronic diseases (heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes) in Singapore.

How it works:

The Healthier Ingredient Development Scheme (HIDS) encourages suppliers and manufacturers to innovate and develop a wider variety of healthier ingredients and supports the industry in promoting the increased use of healthier ingredients by Singapore’s food service. The focus is on promoting healthier versions of staples in the Singaporean diet–such as cooking oils with saturated fat and refined grains in rice and noodles– that contribute to diet-related chronic diseases. HIDS also seeks to promote the conversion of sugar-sweetened beverages, sauces and desserts –which make up a majority of Singaporeans’ daily sugar intake– to lower-sugar options.

HIDS works in tandem with the Healthier Dining Program (HDP) as well as the Healthier Ingredient Promotion Scheme (HIPS) to increase the number of healthier meals available to Singaporeans when dining out. The Health Promotion Board also has a number of other programs in place to help prevent type 2 diabetes. These include promoting the switch to less-sweet sugary drinks via the “Drink Health. Get More From Life” initiative in 2015, the “Eat Drink Shop Healthy” campaign in 2017 and the Healthier Drinks Policy in 2018.

HIDS offers support under three categories: (1) Research, Product Development, Packaging and Certification, (2) Marketing and Publicity and (3) Trade Promotions (such as bulk purchase rebates and bonus incentives for incremental sales of healthier ingredient products).

Eligibility criteria exist for companies to receive support from HIDS and become better able to develop and market healthier ingredients to the food service sector. Products must meet Singapore’s Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) Nutrition Guidelines.

Why it is important:

The National Nutrition Survey 2010 highlighted the fact that Singaporeans are dining out more frequently. It further found an increase in consumption of saturated fat and an inadequate consumption of whole grains amongst Singapore residents aged 18 to 69 years old. These poor dietary patterns are linked to an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Given these conditions are largely preventable and there is strong evidence showing that the replacement of saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat can lower the risk of heart diseases, HIDS aims to improve the profile of the oil used in food preparation across the food service sector.

In addition, according to a 2015 report by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), Singapore has the second-highest proportion of diabetics among all developed nations. Consumption of sugars and other refined carbohydrates are key contributing factors to type 2 diabetes, and refined carbohydrates contribute to 83 percent of diets in Singapore, with sugar consumption contributing to 18 percent of total carbohydrate intake. At the same time, whole grains represent only at 17 percent of total carbohydrate intake.

With the increased availability of healthier oils, whole grains and lower-sugar options through HIDS, consumers will have easier access to better quality meals when eating out. This, in turn, will help to lower their risk of developing diet-related chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Evaluation: The Health Promotion Board is responsible for enforcing and evaluating compliance.

Learn more: Frequently Asked Questions

Point of Contact:

Health Promotion Board

3 Second Hospital Avenue

Singapore 168937

T: 6435 3500


Similar practices: Ontario’s Healthy Menu Choices Act, 2015, aims to create a more supportive food environment for Ontario families by (1) helping consumers make healthier choices when dining out, (2) raising public awareness about the calorie content of foods eaten outside the home and (3) encouraging food industries to reformulate high-calorie menu items. Learn more.


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