Saturday, 24 October 2015

Sugar tax?

So, Jamie Oliver is campaigning for the government to put a tax on sugar foodstuffs.
I'm sorry, Jamie, but the bulk of sugary foods already have VAT on them, so tax is NOT the answer.
So, obesity is becoming a more increasingly pressing health problem.  I won't deny that.  Also, sugary foods have been proven to be the major contributor.
When my parents were young there was sugar rationing, during the sixties there was a sugar shortage.  In the first place sugar was limited, and in the second place, the price of sugar became prohibitive for the working class.  I know that I had to make the decision whether to have sugar in my tea, or on my breakfast.  I wouldn't have been alone in this.
As I see it, there are several problems connected to the over consumption of sugar.
1) There is a bewildering variety of breakfast cereals available, and so many have added sugar, and or chocolate, some even have bits of marshmallow!  I don't think that  choice is a bad thing, but there are too many gimmicky cereals. Frosties and Sugar Puffs were the only sugary cereals until the early 80s, and they were usually bought as an occasional treat, not on a regular basis.
So, for me culprit number one is sweetened breakfast cereals.
2) People used to make their own meals, and baked goods.  Many of these have extra sugar added, which wouldn't be in home cooked foods.
That's culprit number two.
3) This one might seem strange, but there are very few places where you can buy loose sweets. They tend to be packaged.  Once that bag is open, it just begs to be dipped into. For example, Haribo is very popular, but the packets are at least 100g  weight, maybe more. They also have additives, which makes them addictive.  (I often see pupils walking into school tucking into a bag of Haribo, with an energy drink to wash them down! I presume that they are in place of a proper breakfast.
Culprit number 3, easily available large quantities of sweets, at cheaper prices. Bigger packs usually work out better value, but they are not meant to be eaten at one go, by one person, exclusively.
4) Fizzy/sugary drinks, in all their guises. These used to be dearer than they are now, but demand has brought the price down, and the "pack" size up.
Fizzy drinks is the fourth culprit.

BUT, the worst culprit is poor nutritional knowledge. In short, the population needs to be educated in all aspects relating to food. With food lessons in school being often the only place where this takes place, it's essential that these lessons are kept as part of the curriculum.
People need to learn moderation when eating sugary foods, as well.  Putting even more tax on will not stop people buying and consuming sugar foodstuffs, but education and moderation will help.

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