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…