PART THREE: The ‘Sugar Question’ Was Solving Itself – So Who Needs A Sugar Tax?
There’s one element of modern life that I’ll never be comfortable with, and that’s ‘blame culture’. Whatever problems we face, as individuals, communities or as a nation, it seems that we have to blame those problems on ‘someone’ or ‘something’.
Goodness knows that the vending industry has been singled out for blame during the on-going ‘obesity crisis.’ There are those out there, for instance, who espouse the idea that we could end obesity simply by removing snacks machines from hospital waiting areas.
I was looking through some old snaps the other day and I found a group picture of me, my parents and a lot of other people and I was immediately struck by how pencil-thin we all were.
You may be familiar with a comedy sketch by Monty Python, concerning four Yorkshire businessmen who are guilty of over-egging the pudding when discussing their up-bringing? At the risk of sounding like Eric Idle’s Obadiah, here’s my view on why the people today are carrying so much weight, compared with preceding generations:
When I was a kid, we had no electricity. The house was lit by gas mantles. There was no central heating. There was no double glazing: I can remember, quite vividly, thick ice forming on the inside of my bedroom window. It was all about getting between the sheets as fast as you could. Nobody had a car. Never mind walking to school, we all walked everywhere.
In those days, in winter, our bodies burned energy just keeping us warm enough to function.
These days we enjoy every home comfort. We’ve got more disposable income to spend on treats and self-indulgences than ever before – but we’ve lost the counterbalance of expending energy. We’re too sedentary for our own good; but who’s fault is that?
Just now, we’re blaming sugar. In my view, the ‘sugar question’ was solving itself before the government intervened. You see, at Coinadrink, although our drinks sales have increased significantly in the past five years, we sell 40% fewer sugary drinks today than we did five years ago. That shows that people were coming to their own conclusions. The last thing they need is the imposition of a tax.
It’s not long since the government got together with the country’s leading manufacturers of chocolate, snacks and so on and either suggested or insisted that the calorific content of a single ‘bar’ of product should not exceed 250. Maybe the powers-that-be imagined that the manufacturers would tinker with their recipes to find alternative ingredients that would lower the C count, but no. Instead, they all nodded dutifully, went away and reduced the size of all their bars.
Wouldn’t it be better to have manufacturers print a calorie count on every wrapper*? Then we could choose, for instance, between Bar A, at 250 calories and Bar B at 400.
(And by the way: predictably, the prices of the products in question have not been cut to reflect the reduced size of the product…)
One of these days, maybe we’ll get to see some joined-up thinking. I may be a Grandad, but the last thing I want is a Nanny State!
Thanks for reading,
* In the USA, from December 2016, vending machine operators are required to offer for sale ONLY those products upon which the calories count of that product is clearly visible prior to purchase.