This week has seen the pressure mount on the Government to address the growing obesity problem in the UK. At the front of this cavalry charge is celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, calling for a sugar tax. He’s been to Parliament, spoken to the health select committee at the House of Commons, in what capacity? Oh yes, as a father; not as a Politician, Scientist or Doctor but as a father, but more likely as a celebrity which our leaders are so keen to be seen with.
Then food blogger & Twitter user Melissa Foodie came out with a tweet which genuinely took me aback:
'Sugar tax is a tax on the poor' has to be the stupidest thing I've heard all week. It's a tax on the stupid, not poor.
— Melissa (@MelissaFoodie) October 22, 2015
The level of ignorance is staggering from Jamie Oliver & the sugar taxing crowd. I’m not going to deny that the NHS is in trouble, as of 12months ago it had a £30bn deficit, but taxing what effectively will be the poorest in society isn’t the way forward.
In fact, based on the pro sugar tax lobby stance of that the obese in society allegedly use & cost the NHS more (which is wrong), maybe we should be taxing those over 65 rather than giving them pensions. According to an Institute of Economic Affairs report, healthy people live longer are more of a long term drain on the NHS, one of the co-authors of report, Dr Barrie Craven said:
It is commonly assumed that obese people are a disproportionate burden on the NHS.
By 56, the obese are the most expensive but not over their lifetime.
We have to remember that the obese and smokers tend to die earlier and the healthy incur very expensive 24 hour care later in life for diseases such as dementia.
The reality of the NHS crisis is this. We have a growing population, the people are living longer and the pool of money to support it is getting smaller. These are undisputed facts.
There is no doubting ‘Big Food’ has its lobbying claws into our elected representatives & they aren’t stupid. If Oliver & co get their way, all ‘Big Food’ will do is find a replacement such as: stevia, aspartame, sucralose, neotame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), saccharin, and advantame.
Aspartame, a common found sweetener in soft drinks, has been deemed safe – at current consumption levels. Well, all that will happen is that ‘Big Food’ will start developing products using this & other artificial sweeteners causing our consumption levels to rise into unknown long term areas. And why? Oh yes, because a sugar tax forced them to keep their products viable.
Everybody agrees obesity is a bad thing, but trying to compare it smoking is so wrong it actually defies belief. Obesity isn’t the only factor which contributes to somebody getting diabetes, nor is it the sole reason some people require joint replacement or are affected by depression/mental illness. It is a contributing factor, unlike smoking where passive smoking is inflicted on others, the NHS say:
Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable deaths in England, accounting for more than 80,000 deaths each year. One in two smokers will die from a smoking-related disease.
I go back to Melissa’s offending tweet. We live in an age where the poorest in society are becoming reliant on foodbanks, the saying goes ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ meaning that the choice is take it or leave it & go hungry. Those that can afford the weekly shop are buying the supermarket own brands ie the foods which have to lowest nutriental value. So those that bang the sugar tax ban, are those same people going to be bitching & whining when scurvy or ricketts raise their ugly heads? Probably not.
We already have a sugar tax. It’s called VAT. Most foods and drinks in the UK are exempt from VAT. However, sweets, chocolates, sports drinks, and soft drinks are standard-rated for VAT – so there’s already effectively a 20 per cent sugar tax on sweets, chocolates and soft drinks. This is effectively a sugar tax, and despite it, obesity levels have not gone down.
Conclusion on the sugar tax.
Clearly as the fat stupid people we don’t really have clue, that is clearly the thinking of narrow minded people like ‘Melissa Foodie‘ & Katie Hopkins. They clearly see that there is a direct & sole link to obesity via sugar, with no evidence to support it. Yes, obesity is a problem, but there isn’t one quick fix. As Oliver says in his appearance in front of the select committee, it has to be a multi faceted approach; Schools, ‘Big Food’ & education of the general public, all need to be added to the mix & addressed.
The influence of ‘Big Food’ is massive, don’t believe me? Just look back less than five years ago with the introduction of the food traffic light system, which was six years in the making prior to that. This needs to be addressed.
Quite frankly I’m sick of people like ‘Melissa Foodie‘ and Katie Hopkins making broad sweeping statements about those that struggle in day to day life. There are plenty of reasons why some people are obese / fat, but like society there is no single solitary fix, just shades of grey.