Sugar Tax is nothing more than a money spinning effort

I’ve recently lost a substantial amount of weight. That’s not a humblebrag, it’s going to be relevant, I promise. It’s taken the best part of 20 years to find something that works for me, and I’ll come back to that later. How our society discusses diet and weight was mostly to blame for why it’s taken so long. When I was a teenager, I used to voraciously read women’s magazines while keeping out of the sun during the hottest hours of the day on holiday. Oh, the diet articles in some of those. It was awful. Everything was egg whites and Ryvita. Everything.

And then, imagine, you see something like those Cancer Research adverts. You’ve already seen in the media that a bland diet is something to aspire to, a good way to lose weight, and now you’re seeing that if you’re fat you’ll die. Can you blame a teenager for coming to the conclusion that living longer on miserable food isn’t actually that great a deal? Especially when cheese, chocolate, and chips exist. (Not together, although I did go there on a dare once.)

This is where the recent party proposals on food and drink taxation come in. So, imagine you’re a young adult now, and your understanding of diet is (still) that you can have nice food and be fat or have boring food and be thin. Is a tax going to change your mind about that? Or will you just spend more of your student bursary on that chocolate bar? It’s anecdotal, but that’s how people respond to ‘sin taxes’ more generally. Denmark had a fat tax, and gave up on a proposed sugar tax, because people literally preferred to go to shop in Germany than to pay it. Just process that, for a second: people actively chose to go and shop in a different currency to avoid the kind of tax our party is proposing a consultation on.

In reality, changing the way you eat can’t be done in the short term with nudge policies. Back to what worked for me. It was the concept behind the programme ‘Cook Yourself Thin’. You can eat whatever you like. You don’t have to cut out any food groups. You certainly don’t have own a cupboard full of Ryvita and live on steamed vegetables. What you can do is make lower-calorie substitutions for the things you love. The cookbook’s got a chocolate truffle recipe in it. It even recommends swapping a cookie for Jaffa cakes.

You have to do something which is sustainable for you. Otherwise you simply will not be able to keep it off. Most people put the weight they lose back on again. A sugar tax is nothing more than a money-spinning measure: if you have the spare cash, you’ll still buy it. It won’t make you successfully change the way you live. That’s far more personal and complex than most people like to think. 

As liberals, our response to treating obesity should recognise that it’s not a quick-fix topic. Our philosophy leads us to respect the individual and their decisions, and that should also apply to health-related behaviours. The stigmatisation of overweight people is known to be counterproductive. It made me reject public health messaging for two decades. We should not (however well-intentioned) reinforce that attitude. Our approach, instead, should reject an attempt to nudge people down one rigid path, and use the health and education systems to help them discover the path that they can stick to in the long run.

* Hannah Bettsworth is a Lib Dem activist who recently obtained a Masters in European Affairs and lives and works in Brussels.

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43 Comments

  • I’m sorry, Hannah, but this is the worst sort of laizzez faire anything goes small ‘l’ liberalism – backed appropriately enough by Boris Johnson who calls it a ‘sin tax’ and wants to abolish it. The Lib Dems should have better bed fellows than him.

    We shouldn’t let Johnson choose Coca Cola’s profits over our children’s health. A third of our children are leaving primary school overweight or obese. Excess sugar consumption is linked to obesity and terrible conditions like Type 2 diabetes which cause heart attacks, strokes, blindness and amputations.

    The sugar tax removed 90 million kilograms of sugar from soft drinks in its first year. It raised £340 million that was invested in school sports. It’s helping our children get healthy.

    Diabetes is a terrible miserable thing. On a personal note, some years ago I spent six months in a hospital with a different matter ….. but I saw the amputations, the blindness and the deaths….. and the terrible death of a relative. It’s self indulgent to expect the rest of us to pick up the tab for the NHS.

    Cost of Diabetes – Diabetes UK
    https://www.diabetes.co.uk/cost-of-diabetes.html
    The cost of diabetes to the NHS is over £1.5m an hour or 10% of the NHS budget for England and Wales. This equates to over £25000 being spent on diabetes …

    NHS England » Type 2 diabetes and the importance of prevention
    https://www.england.nhs.uk/blog/type-2-diabetes-and-the-importance-of-prevention/
    19 Apr 2018 – Diabetes and its complications cost over £6 billion every year

  • Good article. I’ve never been fond of the “sin tax” approach. I sometimes think the rhetoric behind it comes close to the Victorian era moralising of the wealthy castigating the less well off for their lack of fortitude.

  • jayne mansfield 4th Aug '19 - 5:57pm

    @ Hannah,
    Congratulations on your achievement.

    I hope that you are not suggesting that diet does not have a massive effect on health and well being, because I am afraid that it does.

    A mediterranean type diet is not bland, and a healthy diet is not about deprivation but a positive attitude to health and well being, combined with other evidence based methods of maintaining good health both mental and physical, the role of exercise.

    I am less concerned about the rising price of sugar, than the rising price of a healthy diet.

  • Nonconformistradical 4th Aug '19 - 6:12pm

    I’m in agreement with David Raw’s thinking.

    Obesity in children is a serious problem. We can’t just ignore it.

    Perhaps your comments on the food-related articles you say you read as a teenager in womens’ magazines are an illustration of yet another way in which our education system fails to fulfil students’ real needs. Rather more critical thinking might be in order.

    Personally this baby boomer has always regarded adverts – for whatever – with extreme cynicism – why should anyone believe these people have anything on their minds other than the profit motive?

  • marcstevens 4th Aug '19 - 6:38pm

    Yes I agree with David Raw. Was this written by an Orange Booker obsessed with civil liberties and libertarianism? Please don’t let them take over the party again and destroy it. If they had their way they’d repeal the smoking ban inside buildings. With my crohns disease I’d have no chance neither would millions of people with ongoing health conditions as they couldn’t care less about us as long as they do what they want.

    I know someone who has type 2 diabetes, gets blurred vision, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea on a daily basis and even while on medication and all this from drinking fizzy sugary drinks since childhood. So anything that helps children avoid diseases like diabetes and makes people reduce their sugar intake as it is in nearly everything we eat anyway, is a good thing and the sugar tax gets my full support.

  • Thanks for the article and good luck with keeping the weight off!

    Sugar in drinks is a particular problem because the body has to keep blood sugar within a very strict bound so it quickly converts a spike in sugar to storing it as fat in the liver causing (non alcoholic) fatty liver disease and more generally fatty organs which becomes a problem.

    We clearly haven’t evolved to consume such large amounts of sugar as we do now as it’s effect on our teeth shows but we have also evolved to love and binge on sugar when we did (rarely) find it in nature.

    The big problem with dieting is not the weight loss but the maintenance. At least 80% put on the weight they lose. This isn’t lack of willpower but after a diet people need 25% less calories than people of the same weight who haven’t dieted. Fat cells make a hormone that makes food less attractive lose the fat cells and over the medium term food is more attractive.

    All in all it’s a good idea to reduce to try and curb obesity in the first place. Brands such as ribena and irn bru have already in response to the tax reformulated their drinks to have less sugar.

    Not by tax but an initiative to take salt out of meals is estimated to have saved tens of thousands from strokes.

    The money raised from the sugar tax goes directly into school sports further reducing obesity.

    The power of a small nudge can be seen in the plastic bag charge saving billions of plastic bags.

    Clearly better education – perhaps particularly for doctors and GPs is needed. And encouraging people to eat proper meals and go for at least a 20 minute walk a day.

    But truly believe that as with salt, plastic bags etc. a sugar tax is one useful measure but only one. The government picks our pocket for almost 40% of our income. It’s better that it taxes bad things to raise that money.

  • I fully accept that there are a lot of terrible fad diets out there, and healthy eating is all about balance, but I don’t see how repeating those well accepted facts relates to the merits (or otherwise) of the sugar-tax. The only possible connection is that while magazines do offer faddy options, the sugar-tax gets to the fundamentals of the pointlessness of massive quantities of sugar in commercially available processed drinks, that provide no nutritional benefit.

    The sugar-tax doesn’t just aim to address that some people who have too many of them end up overweight, but just how easy it is for children to consume beyond their daily healthy intake. When Jamie Oliver did a documentary whilst campaigning for something along the lines of the sugar-tax, he visited the children’s wards in hospitals where it was becoming very common for children to need intrusive dental surgery. Then he visited the wards where diabetics were getting their extremities removed.

    I could understand scepticism of some before implementation, but as David has said – it is working! Near enough overnight we’ve seen many of the fizzy drinks companies substantially reducing the sugar content, and where not, it’s raised money that is going directly to the kind of projects that provide very real health benefits.

  • Stephen Psallidas 4th Aug '19 - 9:09pm

    This argument is not liberalism it’s libertarianism.

    The law doesn’t make sugar illegal, it’s taxing it to reflect that excess sugar is bad for both individual and public health.

    Of course there are problems with the way the media and wider society portray people who don’t meet the money-making “ideal” weight. Billions of pounds/dollars depend on making sure people feel insecure about their bodies.

    But that’s a completely separate issue.

    Hannah’s argument logically means that we should scrap the heavy taxes on cigarettes and alcohol too. These taxes are designed to discourage individuals’ behaviour which harms both themselves and wider society. Would she support that?

  • Callum Robertson 4th Aug '19 - 9:44pm

    Brilliant article Hannah. You should pay no heed to the faux critics of elements of the commentaroiat.

    The article advocates a form of liberalism that fits in with a significant element of the party and I’m proud you’re championing this

  • Roland Postle 4th Aug '19 - 11:02pm

    I think there’s a lot to be said for well targeted sugar/etc tax that changes *manufacturer’s* behaviour and the Soft Drinks Industry Levy is a good example of this. The retail price of many soft drinks is dictated by brand value, not by raw ingredients, and so taxing raw ingredients causes manufacturer’s to reformulate to maintain profits and the tax doesn’t get passed to consumers.

    When it comes to nudging individuals behaviour with prices I’m much more with Hannah. This isn’t a libertarian argument, it’s an argument based on it not working very well in practice. A well-meaning idea that fails to understand the psychology of the problem. Many people just aren’t all that price-sensitive when it comes to food – especially ‘nice’ food – and so taxes risk doing nothing more than further punishing behaviour which is already negative for the individual. (In the worst case it not only ends up punitive but exploitative as governments start to see the tax as a revenue raising tool. Yes, I’m thinking of tobacco tax. Unsurprisingly it helps some people quit smoking and that’s fantastic for them but at the current level it’s a horribly unsympathetic thing to impose on those who can’t or don’t quit for whatever reason. Let’s not get the idea we can treat all the other addictions with fines too.)

    The plastic bag tax is a good example of working well with our psychology. Using shop bags or bringing your own is logistically fairly neutral. No one used the free plastic ones in the shop because they really, really liked them. They used them because everyone else did. The tax changed the default behaviour overnight and now we all bring own bags because that’s what everyone else does, and because it’s more hassle and embarrassment to ask for them in the store now and then have to explain to your spouse or whoever why you wasted money on bags. Not because we genuinely all find 10p plastic bags prohibitively expensive now. As a policy the plastic bag tax is less like a ‘sin’ tax and more like hiding tobacco products from view in shops. It helps people gain control over their own behaviour. It’s empowering rather than judgemental.

  • I get the arguments for it, but I’m not entirely certain the obsession with other people’s weight is that helpful. It all adds to a moralistic tone that can cause as many health issues sugar. Personally, I’m a bit fed up of seeing news clips of people walking around with doomy music on soundtrack being presented as if being overweight is the worst social problem in the world. There’s a fine line between prurience and concern. I’m also not sure it is a libertarian argument. I think this article is more about Hannah’s doubts and personal experience than an argument for the rights of big business. I do think people should step back occasionally and examine themselves instead of other people.

  • Spot on.

    A sugar tax will not make people lose weight – as the author rightly says, it is a much more complex issue. As I also know having shed 25% of my bodyweight recently.

    There is also the fundamental Liberal point of personal responsibility. People are overweight because they eat more calories than they burn, and it is up to them to make the changes to their diet and lifestyle to achieve this. Social insurance for healthcare would transfer the financial consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle to people in a far more effective way than a sugar tax.

  • Venetia Caine 5th Aug '19 - 12:25am

    I recently lost nearly 25% of my body weight, going from a size 16 to a size 12, by doing two things: cutting out all snacks between meals (cakes, buscuits, sweets, ice creams etc) and eating smaller portions at meals. Took me about 8 months. And my weekly food bill is less, obviously. “If you want to get thinner, eat less dinner.” No fancy diets, just a lower intake. Now I’m allowed one sweet treat a day, and my size 12 is maintained.

  • We definitely shouldn’t be shaming people into things. As Liberals we should recognise individuals are different and that is the same of weight as of everything. It is not one size fits all as many people would love it to be. Genes are at play, stress is at play, metabolism, other health issues … try having a mental health condition in which the pills make you sleep 13 hours a day. … few people are prepared to take the bigger picture into account. Equally though overweight people can also be healthy, attractive and live long lives.. and are no lesser beings than their thinner counterparts. We should be looking to help people not Shame people and to recognise no one situation is the same. It really isn’t rocket science.

  • Charley Hasted 5th Aug '19 - 5:38am

    Well said. Out of interest has anyone actually looked at whether coca cola’s profits have gone down in the UK. I’m betting they won’t have. Anecdatally myself and a lot of people have switched to buying more coca cola in spite of the sugar tax because it doesn’t have artificial sweeteners in which cause or exacerbate problems for an awful lot of people with a number of medical conditions. A lot of us switched from brands that originally had less sugar then Coke does so our sugar intake has likely gone up if anything.

    A lot of people seem to have confused ‘we must do something’ with ‘we must do anything’ when it comes to obesity so rather than taking time and figuring our what actually does work we’ve ended up with half baked ill thought out messages and methods like eat less move more, the sugar tax and ‘obesity kills’.

    Believe me obesity would kill a lot less if obese people weren’t ignored when we go to the doctor.

    I’ve recently been re diagnosed with anaemia. I went to my Dr months ago saying I though tot was back. I was told not to worry and that my symptoms were just because I was fat despite having a history of severe anaemia (which was again ignored until I was nearly hospitalised because I was fat). Moving on my symptoms worsen went back to the Dr who actually took me seriously this time. I was right, the anaemia was back- I nearly died AGAIN because a doctor dismissed my problems as being weight related when they had nothing to do with that.

    I’ve since been talking to other people and frankly I’m coming increasingly to the conclusion that it isn’t fat that kills it’s fatphobia. I’ve spoken to people who have had everything from a broken limb to Lymphedema, PCOS to Stomach Ulcers and even Cancer ignored by medical professionals because when they went in with their symptoms they were told ‘It’s just because you’re fat.’
    Moreover I know even more fat people who simply don’t go to the dr’s unless they have no other choice because of the dismissal they get.

    We’re being diagnosed later because of fatshaming. Logic dictates that if you diagnose a condition later it will take longer or be more difficult to cure. It’s fairly logical to assume therefore that there are a lot of fat people who are dead now who would not be if they had not had their symptoms ignored because they’re fat or been shamed into avoiding doctors because of a lifetime of disregard and dismissal.

  • The dangers of sugar have been know since the 1970’s ignoring it and failing to treat it as a public health issue has led to major problems. Sugar is like all drugs and it is a drug, it needs to be controlled.
    I’d suggest a quick read of
    Pure, White and Deadly a 1972 book by John Yudkin, a British nutritionist and former Chair of Nutrition at Queen Elizabeth College, London.
    and the actions taken to discredit Yudkin might open a few eyes.

    Lustig also sets of the case against sugar
    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://m.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DT8G8tLsl_A4&ved=2ahUKEwjI7ca2kuvjAhULExoKHbTMBUUQwqsBMAR6BAgDEBk&usg=AOvVaw3kXuZ_y2lyuVvnLitdbWd_

    Congratulations by the way on losing weight, your doing much better than me, my sweet tooth keeps getting in the way.

  • Colin Paine 5th Aug '19 - 8:09am

    I think it is fair to question some “nudge” taxes. No one is denying that taxation is a necessary tool of government but let’s give the individual some credit for being able to make their own decisions. And let’s not forget that libertarian thought is a legitimate part of liberalism….it’s why we aren’t socialists.

  • In the 1970’s there was a battle raging about the causes of heart attacks between sugar and fat. Those pushing too much fat won and sugar became the replacement in food to make it tastie, I’d contend the main danger was sugar and it looks like science is coming to the same conclusion.

  • I am conflicted over the sugar tax, on the one hand I do not believe in taxing those that can least afford it, yet on the other, something has to be done about the spiralling obesity and health costs, not just on a financial level, but on a personal quality of life level.

    I have just lost a significant amount of weight 9 Stone 1ib to date 🙂
    I have managed to reverse type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease and high blood pressure.
    I suffer from mental health conditions, but I also suffer from 3 different gastroenterology diseases
    Ulcerated Colitis, Pancreatic Insufficiency and malabsorption bile acid. All 3 of which plays havoc with my digestive system and different food types aggravate different conditions.
    I could never get my head around dieting or eating healthy, in fact, none of the specialists even told me which foods I should be aiming to reduce, the NHS would just throw more and more pills at me to alleviate the symptoms.

    Eventually, when I got round to finally doing something about my weight, I went on to the low carb diet and Zero Sugar. I was not following any Atkins or Keto Diet plans, I was just cutting out all the foods that I knew aggravated my conditions the most.
    I stuck to Green Vegetables, salads, Meats, all types of fish and dairy and cut out all starchy foods, Deli Food, prepacked food and sauces and grains completely.
    I cook everything from scratch
    Not only did the weight come falling off, but I could not believe how much my food bill reduced, I always thought eating healthy cost a fortune and yet I only eat fresh produce and my food bill halved, which includes enjoying steak and seafood 🙂

    I think we need better education about eating healthy and how it can save struggling families money. Every article that seems to appear online that encourages a healthier lifestyle goes on about “organic” “corn fed” “free range” “lean cuts” Nuts and Pulses” Blah Blah Blah and the first thing most people think is, this is not financially viable on my families budget and we cannot afford this and they switch off. In reality you do not need any of those things and the first thing you need to do is cut out sugar and drastically reduce our intake of bad carbohydrates.

    So along with a sugar tax, I think we need much better education, maybe it’s about time we had some Government sponsored TV programs to educate families

  • jayne mansfield 5th Aug '19 - 10:10am

    @ David Raw,
    Congratulations for speaking out. As a former headmaster you show commendable concern for children who have little if any control over their diet, and then given the addictive nature of sugar, (an additive that is totally unnecessary to our diets), develop habits that lay down the health problems of later life.

    There are some who don’t seem to understand the difference between Liberalism and libertarianism. When the state picks up the tab for the consequences of irresponsible global corporations who push something harmful to profiteer, the matter becomes a societal one and not an individual one.

    Sugar is an hidden ingredient in many foods, increasing the viscosity of tomato ketchup the sauces in otherwise healthy , nourishing baked beans, etc., and I don’t agree that a tax making less healthy options more expensive does not have an effect. Most people who work to a budget , myself included, make financial calculations when buying groceries. If, for example, one has the option between a more expensive tin of baked beans and a cheaper reduced sugar one, the healthier option becomes attractive. Are those saying that when sales figures show a fal in high sugar products, the organisations producing less healthy options will not respond?

  • @frankie yes, sugar is the problem (not fat). However we didn’t tax fat and shouldn’t tax sugar.

    The best approach is to introduce social insurance for healthcare; that might make people think more carefully about their lifestyles. The right balance between personal responsibility and consequential cost.

  • William Wallace 5th Aug '19 - 11:02am

    The power of advertising, and of major companies pursuing profit without considering externalities, are missing from this analysis. Markets are not entirely ‘free’; regulation, and taxation are justified Tom correct market failings.

  • David Garlick 5th Aug '19 - 12:56pm

    Great article… The reality is that people who want to lose weight can do it. The help that they need is education not taxation. I am all for reductions in sugar levels in damaging foods and drinks. Done slowly that can be done with the publics support and if businesses lose some turnover I would be both surprised and delighted. I am sure that they will adapt and survive. I agree that the ‘diet’ regimes are appalling and that lifestyle change is the only answer. If that is to work then moderation in portion size and moderation in snacking and adopting moderate exercise works for most. Those with health issues should consult with their GP etc to make sure that they ‘do no harm’. Those for whom eating is a form of stress relief will need other support to move to other self help strategies

  • William Fowler 5th Aug '19 - 12:59pm

    If you go for a pure vegetarian diet you will find that sugars and alcohol become much less attractive as your body reforms itself (personally I can’t do pure vegetarian for too long as I lose muscle mass and I ain’t git an excess to lose in the first place)… this may be because your body is getting the nutrients that it really wants or because some element of eating meat etc ramps up the need for sugar. Anyway, with no-deal Brexit the govn is going to need lots of new tax revenue sources and to cut spending (less use of NHS and dentists) so taxing sugar seems like a good wheeze to me.

  • Michael Sammon 5th Aug '19 - 1:19pm

    I agree, good article. I can sympathise with the attempt to create a market solution here but really I don’t believe this is going to lead kids to eating healthy, they’ll just be poorer. Education is key.

  • A very revealing set of comments from the so called libertarian wing of the party.

    What comes across strongly in what is supposed to be an ‘evidence based party’ is how little some people absorb and reflect on the evidence…… that the sugar tax removed 90 million kilograms of sugar from soft drinks in its first year. It also raised £340 million that was invested in school sports. It’s helping our children get healthy.

    I suppose in a free for all economy ‘ask no questions’ passes for an ethical policy and it’s perfectly legitimate to transfer resources into the coffers of an American multinational which just happens to be Trump’s favourite tipple.

    Coca-Cola: drinking the world dry | War on Want
    https://waronwant.org/media/coca-cola-drinking-world-dry
    Coca-Cola is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. … The company has also violated workers’ rights in countries such as Colombia, Turkey, …

  • Tony Greaves 5th Aug '19 - 2:45pm

    One interesting comment on here suggesting that changing the price of something does not alter the demand for it. Err…so what is market economics all about then? Still, on the basis of some of the antiquated arguments on here, we should stop taxing tobacco and sell it in school tuckshops…Never mind, you’ve got Simon on your side!!!

  • Tony Greaves 5th Aug '19 - 2:47pm

    My view of taxing sugar is that it’s being done the wrong way. Rather than selectively putting a levy on some products at the consumer end of the process, sugar itself should be taxed at source, at the manufacturing end, so that the tax then feeds through to the price of all products using sugar according to how much they contain.

  • But that’s patently untrue. It’s led to the reformulation of many soft drinks, and raised money for school based exercise activities.

    The sugar in question isn’t naturally to be found in those products, it is added, to man made products. It is also added to whole range of other products to, one’s especially marketed to parents, and to children. These products are what start many children on their journeys of weight gain.

    Liberalism is nothing if it’s not the right to make choices. But those choices have to be real ones, not ones made with half of the necessary information missing, or withheld.

    Why is the most famous, and one of the wealthiest, food companies in the world a purveyor of artificial, sugar leaden, drink. The answer to that question is surely the dividing lines between liberals and libertarians.

  • Sugar doesn’t make me fat.

    It makes me (very) ill.

    Anything that nudges manufacturers to reduce sugar in their products gets my vote.

  • Charley Hasted 5th Aug '19 - 9:17pm

    Finding being called a Libertarian for opposing a sugar tax absolutely hilarious frankly.

    Hint: Someone disagreeing with you on the efficacy of sin taxes does not make them a Libertarian.

    Supporting sin taxes because you think ‘we must do something’ and ‘we must do anything’ does not make you Liberal.

  • jayne mansfield 5th Aug '19 - 10:22pm

    @ David Raw,
    Your link to what happened in Plachimada brought back memories. A David and Goliath fight.
    @ TCO
    ‘Yes sugar is the problem not fat’.

    Well yes and no.

    Fats are important to health, unlike sugar which is unnecessary to our diet, Fats, and cholesterol is a type of fat are. important to wellbeing. However, the issue is the ratio between LDH and HSL.

    We can’t change risk factors such as genes and gender, but we can mitigate those by our lifestyle choices including change in diet, according to those damned experts.

    @ Frankie,
    Love you lots ,

    So make sure with that sweet tooth of yours, you take care with your dental hygiene . Look up the research.

    @ Ruth Bright,

    The problem with those in our seventies, is that the seeds of dementia, according to current research , and I realise that I am teaching my granny to suck eggs, are sown before the symptoms of dementia manifest. An interesting avenue of research that you might, or already have explored, is that the lifestyle issues that cause heart disease and stroke might also be responsible for the vascular issues that cause cognitive impairment. I find this a cause for optimism, the idea that not only the risk of heart disease and stroke can be minimised but also the risk of dementia.

  • Even if we assume that the sugar tax does not change the behaviour of manufacturers and consumers, the money raised can be used in hell a lot of useful purposes like improving public education and health as the author said, both of which need tax money.

  • @Tony Greaves – My view of taxing sugar is that it’s being done the wrong way. Rather than selectively putting a levy on some products at the consumer end of the process, sugar itself should be taxed at source, at the manufacturing end, so that the tax then feeds through to the price of all products using sugar according to how much they contain.
    Agree, this would make it more of a duty than a sales tax.
    I’ve always been skeptical about the objections raised by the sports supplements industry, you only need to look at the diet of the cyclists in the Tour de France to see how little the sugar-based sports supplements are actually used.

    I think people here are missing a point: there is a clear link between sugar and type-2 diabetes, which is a totally avoidable condition. Given, like smoking/alcohol/drugs, people expect to be treated by the NHS for this condition, there is a cost implication, so it does not seem unreasonable to tax sugar.

  • Heather Tetley 6th Aug '19 - 2:49pm

    Good points on tax & so forth, especially underlining the negative attitude to obesity.. as if it has something to do with lack of will power.
    Current, cutting edge research shows that weigh5 loss or gain has much to do with a small and very ancient hormone which makes the person who might get chased b6 a tiger have a thin body & the person who might be iced into a cave all winter retain fat.. in both cases the increase or decrease is caused by stress.. so if you want to know the cause o& our obesity epidemic read the morning news, & imagine how your ancient hormone likes the political & climate headlines… then add blame… & the add mental health situation with school children etc..
    the thing is, do we have a solution, aside from counselling, meditation & eating? ( a good diet)
    & of course that we should practice Loving our neighbour as ourselves.. 💞

  • marcstevens 6th Aug '19 - 6:45pm

    Did you hear her on radio 4 a few nights back, totally held her own with the Tory and Labour MPs and spoke with conviction. Well hopefully a future Lib Dem Leader, Layla Moran, is also a supporter of the sugar tax. So does doing something pre-emptive not make her liberal as well then as she supports a ‘so-called’ sin tax?
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/11/poisonous-debate-obesity-reporting-language

    As for stereotyping people on shape, size and weight, that seems to be coming from the opponents of the said tax not the supporters. Those of who support it have either family or personal experience of how fizzy sugary drinks lead to type 2 diabetes and all its ensuing misery and serious complications as well as other health conditions.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/11/poisonous-debate-obesity-reporting-language

  • @marcstevens “fizzy sugary drinks lead to type 2 diabetes and all its ensuing misery and serious complications”.

    Well yes. But no-one is putting a gun to anyone’s head forcing them to drink this stuff. Drink water. It’s free.

  • marcstevens 13th Aug '19 - 6:19pm

    Yes but sugar is in everything so you don’t need to buy ever more sweetened drinks. The tax will reduce consumption of fizzy sugary drinks which are very cheaply priced in any case and lead to health benefits.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Evans 22nd Oct - 8:03pm
    Thankfully MPs have rejected the timetable. The key question is what will Boris Johnson do next. My prediction is he do what he and Dominic...
  • User Avatarfrankie 22nd Oct - 8:00pm
    George, You class the proposals of Dr Lee as hard Labour. In the words of Indigo Montoya "You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not...
  • User AvatarDavid Evans 22nd Oct - 7:35pm
    Alex MacFie. You say give it a rest, please. But then you spoil it by relying on the excuse that "Nick, Danny and the other...
  • User AvatarGeoffrey Payne 22nd Oct - 7:11pm
    It is good news that the Canadian Liberals are the largest party and will continue to govern. They are lucky to have more seats with...
  • User AvatarJohn Boss 22nd Oct - 6:25pm
    I have just reminded myself of the contributors to the Orange Book and very impressive they are too. We seem far too quick to rewrite...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 22nd Oct - 6:13pm
    @James Kenyon They certainly were, James. My wife and I arrived in Edmonton in July 1970 at the fag end of thirty plus years of...