A Type 1 diabetic Prime Minister and Health

So the Sugar Tax has arrived and I see one of Cameron’s ex advisors has been congratulating herself in last edition of ‘The Sunday Times’ (paywall) for persuading him to institute it.

It is certainly a start.

Rather like taxing cigarettes it is to be hoped it will be the start on changing behaviour. It needs to be increased regularly and systematically. And also be properly policed. It is no use if Coca-Cola becomes yet another variety on the smugglers’ already extensive range of food and drink currently avoiding UK excise and EU tariffs.

Never mind the deluded hypothected NHS tax, which some consider the public would accept, the public really need to know that, according to diabetes.co.uk :

In total, an estimated £14 billion pounds is spent a year on treating diabetes and its complications, with the cost of treating complications representing the much higher cost.

They estimate that 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 £25,000 being spent on diabetes every minute.

Even more, they consider that there are additional annual resource costs that the economy sustains as a result of diabetes:

Absenteeism: £8.4 billion per year
Early retirement (at least at a level of fairness by comparison with everyone else) : £6.9 billion per year
Social benefits: £0.152 billion

A lesser estimate but still enormous is that of the ‘The Diabetes Times’ which estimates the cost of treating diabetes, at £10 billion a year.

Still, the arrival of the new tax and the ‘sugar tax year’ is by no means a bad idea, and starting with fizzy drinks is certainly the best area to start. But what many manufacturers have already done is substitute artificial sweeteners for sugar. As artificial sweeteners are known to inflame the gut and upset its microbial balance, regular consumption seems to increase the risk of developing glucose intolerance and metabolic disease. Indeed some have even suggested that artificial sweeteners are potent neurotoxins (perhaps we should ask our Foreign Secretary).

It would make much more sense to get 10% off the NHS by not drinking Coca-Cola and its similarly sweet, nutritionally useless, indeed nutritionally harmful, competitors. Why do we allow these recently arrived drinks (UK distribution was not at all widespread until the late 1930s) to still flourish when we now know that they poison us? Indeed although it describes itself as the ‘Real Thing’ we know it isn’t. Yet dependancy on Cocaine, the real, ‘Real Thing’ seems, somewhat ironically, to be much less costly to us all.

Equally disturbing is that some drinks have actually increased the amount of artificial sweeteners to substitute for the sugar. And yet this product was outlawed by the FDA until Donald Rumsfelt, Chairman of a company that created ‘Aspartame’, obtained a reversal.

Thus our gut bacteria are being bombarded with things that we never ate — or, certainly never ate in the concentrations we eat now.

We really need to concentrate on cutting out sugar (never widely consumed in England till at earliest, the fourteenth century and then probably rarely in Britain on any scale till the next century).

Add in to this that we have cut out fat – as the statistics have proved that we have, people compensate for the missing fat and start loading up on carbohydrates, which the body converts into sugar—and then body fat.

So, spend and tax aside, or as it really is, our health and wellbeing resources, should not be concentrated on trying to keep people employed to encourage our bad health. We should, instead, try to encourage another way:  much reduced confectionery and no soft drinks. We could also grow to love fat again but reduce the carbohydrates. That will not only improve our health, it will also save us money.

It is quite incredible that this austerity government, led by a diabetic Prime Minister, hasn’t spotted this easy, easy win…

 

 

Comments

  1. Donald Liverpool -

    So let me mention what hasn’t. If you are a land owner on whose land sugar beet is produced you get a lovely subsidy from the Common Agricultural Policy, an inheritance tax exemption, cheap red diesel for your farm machinery, and no VED for your farm vehicles ( even though they clearly emit ). All this means that sugar is priced lower than in a market without subsidies and tax breaks.
    A non-tory would support abolishing all these subsidies and breaks and let the price of sugar rise accordingly. But you Peter applaud keeping these things ( implicit by it not being mentioned, and because you are so pro-EU where farm subsidies are the main budget item ). You also approve of the working classes then being taxed in order to get some portion of them to have their living standards forceably lowered in ways that might lead to them modifying their behaviours.
    I think that you should look up the definition of nanny statism, just to make sure you’ve got it right.

  2. Peter May -

    Rather well put….
    I couldn’t agree more that the EU sugar farming policy is madness. And I’m pro EU, yes, but far from agreeing with all EU policies. If we remain we do at least have the possibility of changing them…
    ‘Nanny statism’ is also seat belts and crash helmets for example. If you think that people should be allowed to unecessarily harm themselves that’s certainly a point of view, but it uses the state’s common resources completely unecessarily. Like Brexit ‘bandwidth’, we could and should be using resources much more interestingly and beneficially for us all.

  3. Graham -

    Well, Donald, I assume you travel only by bicycle or foot. Lots of things pollute, lots of things get subsidies, many of them hidden, lots of businesses survive only through subsidies, especially farming in less favoured areas. So it’s a bit simplistic to say that we should cut out the subsidies and let the market decide.(incidentally, most sugar produced is cane and the Eu imports a lot of that)

    As a one time (small) farmer I can say that it is mostly hard work for little financial reward and most of the farmers I know, and still know in the Borders, would say the same. It’s a lifestyle. Without some kind of support the hills and glens of Scotland and many areas of England and Wales would soon become depopulated. I know that’s what some people want and see it turned into a playground.

    If you’re saying we need to look at these things, yes, I agree, but let’s look at them in the round and examine the consequences.

    But back to Peter’s point. Much of the NHS effort goes towards treating largely avoidable (often self-inflicted) conditions and the consequences are that the NHS is less able to deal with other conditions. One small example is the people who turn up at A&E for trivial complaints, or those under the influence of drink or drugs and cause mayhem, disproportionately using resources. The Nanny State has a role to play.

    1. Peter May -

      Agree with your farming points- particularly as Britain imports 40% of its food. Seems to me it is essential that farming is nurtured and encouraged (though not the production of sugar beet!) The countryside as simply a playground is a luxury I don’t think we can afford.
      Also, if the state is us, then ‘Nanny’ is also us. The Nanny State is really just individualists’ derogatory criticism of the state that they, too elect.

  4. Andy Crow -

    I blame the Aspartame lobby for this. Serious money in artificial sweeteners.

    Remember when they all wanted to give up butter and eat industrial lubricant on our toast. Who paid for that campaign ?

    What I find depressing is that people will eat and drink what advertisers (or governments) tell them even if tastes like shit.

    At least alcohol and tobacco are natural products. (And taxation, by increasing the price, encourages their consumption because at THAT price they MUST be good !! )

    Expect sugar sales and real sugar drinks to attract niche market status.

  5. Peter May -

    In fact Tate & Lyle and others have always tried to suppress anti sugar health findings, and of course now sponsor the Tories and pro Brexit campaigns. (Is this worth the Tate gallery?)
    It was about 50 years ago that the spotlight was removed from sugar to fat and I cannot find a link to the bloke who first suggested it – pretty certain he was from London University. Now of course there is this excellent chap from California:
    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/aug/24/robert-lustig-sugar-poison
    So I think the sugar lobby is the vanguard and the aspartame lot are the rearguard. As for aspartame and other artificial sweeteners we are basically conducting an experiment on ourselves if we drink it in any quantity because nobody knows if it’s good for us (I doubt it). Logically there should be a tax on both artificially sweetened drinks and sugared ones. There is also the straightforward idea that a sweet taste on the tongue triggers excess insulin release and thus leads to problems with insulin resistance – ie further danger of diabetes.
    After all that – keep sweet 🙂

    1. Graham -

      Re misinformation. The tobacco industry perfected this with denials, law suits, tame scientists, attacks on integrity. The sugar lobby (and climate deniers) are treading a well-worn path. A lot of people have a lot of money to lose.

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