Spin spin sugar

Today, in the 2016 budget, George Osborne announced a new sugar tax on soft drinks that will come into force in 2018. Senior Lecturer in Health Studies, Steve Woods gives his take on the announcement:

Governments like simple solutions, to highly visible problems, and here obesity has been viewed by successive Labour, Coalition and Conservative governments as a simplistic ‘more calories in, less energy expended’ mantra. Blame is made of the obese, often citing ‘a lack of individual responsibility’ or ‘sinful gluttony’. Obesity seems such a compelling, almost crusading, issue for government: people’s flaws are inscribed on their bodies in the physical space they inhabit. They walk among us, flaunting their size ‘sins’.

The way forward was laid down a good few years ago by the smoking ban, and while a Sugar Tax announced today is a welcome start to tackling obesity, and the health issues that are part and parcel of obesity, this tax does seems on the periphery of the real issue; that of the hold food and drink corporations have over us, where the market is still filled with an abundance of unhealthy choices, especially concerning when human anatomy is programmed to make snap decisions on what to eat — how many of us have succumbed to succulent smells from bakeries and sandwich shops on a cold morning!

The real issues though are not the ease we can make snap decisions about one unhealthy purchase or another; it’s actually more about the advertisers who make unhealthy food choices so sexy and irresistible. Fundamentally, we must look to science and research to guide as to the most effective ways of achieving healthy lifestyles, and that is the reduction of poverty and inequality.