Dateline Southeast Asia

Low-GI breakfast could reduce risk of developing type-2 diabetes

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Related tags Diabetes mellitus Carbohydrate Blood sugar

Breakfast is officially the most important meal of the day and can help reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes, Singaporean scientists have found in a limited study.

Researchers from the Clinical Nutrition Research Centre, part of the government-backed A*STAR research institute, have backed up the advice given by generations of mothers and nutritionists regarding the importance of breakfast.

Their study found that what is eaten for the first meal sets the tone for the rest of the day especially if the breakfast has a low glycemic index formulation.

GI measures the sugar in the blood from the carbohydrates eaten. A high GI food means the food elevates blood sugar and insulin levels more quickly.

In a two-day trial involving two groups of 11 participants, one group was given a low-GI breakfast and afternoon snack, while the other had a high GI breakfast. They were also offered a standard buffet lunch and were free to eat what they wanted for dinner. 

Both groups had their blood glucose levels tested with wearable devices every five minutes over 48 hours. The groups swapped their breakfast formulation after a week and were tested again.

The results showed that those who had a low-GI breakfast had significantly less sugar in their blood for the rest of the day, and the effect was found to have continued overnight.

The researchers suggested that a low GI breakfast "may help to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes​,” said Jeyakumar Henry, head of the CNRC.

"So what you eat at breakfast sets your glucose response to the entire day at a lower amplitude​," Prof. Henry told the Straits Times​.

The researchers said they were not yet certain what caused this effect, but speculated that it could be because those eat a low-GI breakfast are satisfied for longer. Another possibility could be what they call a “second-meal effect​," whereby a low-GI meal can reduce the glucose response to the next meal.

More stories from Southeast Asia…

Cambodia sets sights on setting up its own halal certification system

Cambodia is looking to woo more travellers from the Middle East by setting up its own halal food certification, for which officials are finalising plans for its framework.


Speaking after a meeting with Turkey’s ambassador, minister of commerce Pan Sorasak announced that a draft sub-decree to govern halal standards was in its final stages, and would soon be presented for cabinet approval.

The framework has taken some time to draft while the government approached various authorities on halal certification. A committee is expected to be appointed to monitor standards in Cambodian-made halal products.

According to Sos Mou Sine, vice-president of the Cambodia Muslim Development Foundation, prime minister Hun Sen discussed its details with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak last month.

Malaysia promised to provide training assistance to Cambodia on the halal food certification project​,” Mou Sine told Khmer TImes​.

Producing halal food in the country not only benefits the local Muslim community and Muslim tourists, but also creates markets for the food products​” in neighbouring Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, each Muslim-majority countries. 

Cambodia’s commerce ministry will be heavily involved in promoting the country’s halal capabilities, said a spokesman.

He added that the small number of tourists Cambodia receives from the Middle East—just over 7,000 in the first four months of this year—is due to a lack of direct flights from the region to Phnom Penh, and also because of the paucity of eating locations acceptable to Muslims.

In recent years Malaysia has cemented its position as a leader in halal tourism, with its Islamic development board, Jakim, considered a leading halal regulator.

Malaysia, the UAE and Australia lead the global halal food ecosystem relative to their size, while Indonesia, with a market worth US$190bn, is the biggest halal consumer, according to a new Thomson Reuters report.

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