If this latest clamour for the low hanging fruit of a sugar tax on soft drink as outlined by Graham Richardson in his column Tax on Sugar Must Be Introduced is meant to send a message the message will be ignored or lost as people won’t even notice and to the extent that they do, they’ll will find the extra 20 cents or whatever in the centre console of the car.
We’ve seen how government initiatives unravel with the Rob Sitch, Utopia inspired Return and Earn recycling scheme in NSW. Or the NBN. Why do we think that governments are capable of tackling obesity?
I don’t think anything reveals or reflects the sclerotic, flabby or lazy thinking of the likes of the Obesity Policy Coalition so much as the resort to the predictable default position, of all QANGO’S, NGO’s and society’s busy bodies, as the tax option. It will do absolutely nothing to solve the problem of obesity unless it is draconian, across the board on ALL processed food and soft drink comparable to the tax on cigarettes.
Yes, there’s a lot of sugar in Coke for example but the big problem is the amount of sugar in all processed foods. Many breakfast cereals like muesli are packaged and marketed as healthy and natural and for kids, fun, but in fact are just loaded with sugar and other junk. Low fat yogurts and other low fat foods are absurdly high in sugar to make up for the lack of taste for taking out the fat in the first place.
The sugar content (at 4.2 grams equals per 1 teaspoon of sugar) in many processed foods is outrageously shocking and tantamount to poisoning the customer.
Of course they get around this with a veneer of corporate responsibility by understating and fudging their recommended serving size. I mean who the hell eats the recommended serving size?
And the thing is that sugar pops up in products where you least expect it, like tomato sauce for example where this slurry of colouring, water, salt, sugar and food acids has 5 grams (1.25 teaspoons of sugar per 20ml) but who the hell puts just 20 ml of tomato sauce on a pie or a steak or a snag?
No doubt the big multinational food company’s have their lobbyists walking the carpet in Canberra but sooner or later with the impact of obesity on the nations health budget these spivs and huxters are going to have to be ignored and hosed out on to the street and the government is going to have to make some very simple but tough and brutal legislative decisions with respect to the sugar content of ALL processed food.
Somehow I don’t think they’re up to the task.