According to the FT the amount raised so far by the sugar tax is ‘rather disappointing’.
That is understandable. Because, to do the job properly, what the tax should have been targeted at is not sugar, but sweetness.
Soft drink manufacturers have been congratulating themselves on how they have managed to reduce their sugar content and keep their products tasting the same. Artificial sweeteners have stepped into the breach and we really do not know whether they could be better for you than sugar or much worse. So, taking into account the quantities of soft drinks consumed, the manufacturers seem to be conducting a real time experiment on their customers. Teenagers in England are, after all, the biggest consumers of sugar-sweetened drinks in Europe.
Meanwhile it seems that the Government Childhood Obesity Strategy is predicated on the idea that ten Calories of Coca Cola are the same as either ten Calories of Digestive Biscuits or ten Calories of Broccoli and all we need is sport and physical activity to counteract any over indulgence in any of them. They aren’t! Perhaps they need to learn from another urban myth; that celery burns more Calories than it supplies – it is not true but it does get you thinking about how the body works. The government, remarkably, seems not to know.
It seems that the sugar tax, designed to be a disincentive to consumption of soft drinks, has not only not worked on its own terms, but also not for the government, which is disappointed with the money raised – though when we know that we spend first and tax afterwards, to then consider that we have to require people to increase their likelihood of diabetes by consuming soft drinks in order that we can have more money going into fitness and sport is entirely bizarre. No wonder the government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy is confused.
And as if to prove that the world is completely mad, on the same day that it is announced that almost 7,000 young people have type 2 diabetes in England and Wales, DiabetesUK announces a partnership with Britvic, the soft drinks manufacturer.
That is really sugaring the pill….