A sugar tax?

There is a write in campaign at the moment urging MPs to support a sugar tax. Apparently a modest increase in the price of sugary drinks will abolish child obesity. If only things were that easy.

I find the demonization of certain foodstuffs a strange characteristic of modern political debate. Some spend their time denouncing fats. Others now spend their energy condemning sugar. Some dislike carbohydrates, others see the demons in alcoholic drinks. Whichever they attack, the answer is to tax it more. This route has been tried for many years with alcohol, yet there are still too many sad cases of people who become dependent on too many alcoholic drinks. I accept that taxing alcohol is necessary as part of the means to raise money for public services.

To me sugar, fat and carbohydrate all have a role to play in a healthy diet. You need to eat something, otherwise you end up with malnutrition. There is nothing intrinsically evil about the bag of sugar or the tub of fat on the supermarket shelves. A little of it each day is fine. Excess in any foodstuff can cause illness or harm. The balanced diet needs balancing too with the amount of energy you burn, which depends on how active a lifestyle you live and how well your home is heated. As a child I liked sweets, cake, chocolate, fizzy drinks and chips. My parents ensured these were treats, served in appropriate quantities when the occasion warranted and their budget allowed. More dependable foods were the normal servings for mealtime.

The case for taxing fizzy drinks with sugar includes the proposal that fizzy drinks sweetened some other way would be tax free. This invites experimentation with other sweeteners. Who is to say these will all be better or good for us? It still leaves open the point that trying to cut consumption by tax means fewer drinks for low income families but little constraint on high income homes.

I cannot see the merit of a tax on sugar or on drinks containing sugar. There are many ways of getting fat. Some are the person’s metabolism, others are the combination of diet and exercise, which is more complex than a few colas.


  1. petermartin2001
    December 1, 2015

    Apparently a modest increase in the price of sugary drinks will abolish child obesity. If only things were that easy.

    So you’d be against the imposition of a tax on cigarettes using the argument ‘Apparently a modest increase in the price of tobacco will abolish lung cancer and heart disease . If only things were that easy.’ ?

    1. Roy Grainger
      December 1, 2015

      The price of cigarettes has been going up for years yet the rate of lung cancer in women, far from being abolished, is still increasing. Hard to see what point you’re trying to make.

      1. petermartin2001
        December 1, 2015

        Because its a logical fallacy along the lines of If P, then Q. P is a fallacious argument. Therefore, Q is false.

        So in this case P is “modest increase in the price of sugary drinks will abolish child obesity.”
        Q is ” we should have a modest tax on sugary drinks”.

        But change P to “modest increase in the price of sugary drinks will help in the fight against child obesity” and there is no longer any fallacy.

        So it’s really not that “hard” if you think about it.

      2. Bazman
        December 3, 2015

        Let’s ‘ave a boiled sweet! I see a bus coming.
        Hmm! Rates rising in woman and falling in men. What trends do you think womans smoking has followed in the last 30 years? Thats a clue! Maybe the levels of vitamin C in fags is the answer though and I have not got a clue?
        Ex 40 a day and other funny stuff smoker me. I must be bias and reformed, maybe you could base your arguments around this?
        Sugar is addictive and a complex substance. I’m afraid. Mix it in with alcohol, fat and fags in excessive amounts and you will be unhealthy. They are all linked and need controlling. The key word is controlling. Not banning and those arguing that it is all down to the individual in a modern post industrial society with a food industry as just that. You need a lie down Comrades.
        The Tovarishch will not help you with health, finances, education or housing, they are not for sharing with you only with themselves.

  2. Gina Dean
    December 1, 2015

    It is parental responsibility to see that their children eat the correct foods. Parents need to learn to say NO. Unfortunately this does not happen they always have an excuse as to why there is a problem and not their fault.
    More needs to be taught in school about food. It would take time.
    Goverments can’t be all things to all people. It needs to withdraw and not interfere so much.

  3. Margaret
    December 1, 2015

    We understand what you are saying and as children all the meals were healthy. Meat and a few veggies , a drink of water or tea were most peoples evening meal. I did not drink fizzy drinks, cakes were something that mum occasionally made at weekend and a trip to the Coop at weekend gave us hot ‘Hovis ‘ in tissue paper Today not consuming sugar is like asking a child to do maths without a calculator. It is a daily excess.

    My work is carried out in a mainly Asian population and it seems impossible to change their very unhealthy diets and the degree of type 2 diabetes has increased to such a level that all patients can expect by the time they are 40 to have some degree of elevated glucose levels .Cola and fast food are an integral part of life. Many of the non Asians consume lager and fast foods in excess.

    Sugar tax is a good idea and non sugary food simultaneously made cheaper. The old Brits perception of common food sense is not applicable today .I only yesterday made some brownies and iced them feeling guilty and have spent the night feeling thirsty , a symptom typical of high glucose levels. Cake competitions on the TV have increased interest in sweet things , whereas Jamie Oliver usually cooks sensibly with flair.

    I notice that you yourself seem to have gone slimmer John , but for most over 60 keeping the pounds off is difficult and it is even harder for the youngsters who have known little else but teenage years with ‘puppy fat’

    1. stred
      December 2, 2015

      When I was a lad, I ate a greasy breakfast cooked by my dad, then went to school by car. At break I ate jam doughnuts, then drank full cream milk. At midday I went home in a car with dad and we ate more high cholesterol food. In the afternoon I bought acid drop spangles, sweet cigarettes, milky bars, aniseed balls and gob stoppers. I drank cherry and lime pop full of sugar. Tea always had two spoons. When my mum was not in, I borrowed the golden syrup tin and ate desert spoons of it. In the evening my mum made something healthy. At weekends they took me to a cafe, where I always ordered sausage chips and beans, with sugary pop.

      But I was always thin, as I walked a mile home to a house up a hill and cycled to see friends and somtimes to school. Only one boy at school was overweight. He was popular and did not object to everyone calling him Fatty. He then slimmed down.

      After 40, I used to make healthy dinners for my kids and put on 2 stone. Then after a blood pressure rise, I cut portions, while still walking to the pub, drinking several pints and eating nuts. After 2 months I was back to correct weight. Over the past 10 years, I have been with a partner who insists on buying large quantities of delicious very healthy food, making extra courses and putting delicious cheese, hams, pates and spreads in the fridge. She has about ten bars of chocolate and giant bags of nuts in the cupboard. We eat out much more. I can’t afford to drink beer in the pub any more and drink cans at home. Arthritis prevents me from cycling and walking far. We have both become tubby but she thinks I have to give up beer to slim!

  4. Mark B
    December 1, 2015

    Good morning.

    Well we already have a ‘fresh air tax’ in the form of CO2. A naturally occurring gas.

    There are calls to ban, tax or moderate this or that. What worries me most, is that a very small minority not people are able, through the right channels (usually the Guardian & the BBC) to get their message out there. And by so doing influence government policy, decisions and ultimately, law.

    It has been alleged that a lot of these (usually government funded charity organisations) are the ones that put forward these policies on behalf of government itself. Thereby providing government with an excuse to raise more revenue in that name of doing good. Rarely is this true. It is about squeezing the pips until they squeak !

    It is because of this that I do not believe that governments should be able to tax the common citizen unless a tax proposal is put in their election manifesto. If government need to raise more monies from taxes, they should put it before the people in a referendum.

    Taxes are raised by government to spend on things that it likes, like HS2.

    The more people are willing to see through this alleged sham and hold these fake charities or mythical BBC experts to account the better.

  5. DaveM
    December 1, 2015


    this is just another example of modern politicians refusing to tackle a problem head-on, and looking for an easy, lazy way round it.

    There are IS nutters in the middle east – instead of just fighting they talk about air strikes and arming other terrorist groups.

    There are murderous cells operating almost openly in Europe and rather than arresting and/or deporting them they talk about targeting arms dealers and listening to phone calls and emails and monitoring terrorists’ finances.

    There are floods of refugees in the Med – rather than just sending them back they talk about destroying traffickers’ boats.

    There is out of control, unsustainable immiration – instead of controlling borders they talk about reducing in-work benefits.

    If you want to stop kids being fat, make it the law that kids have to do at least 45 minutes of exercise per day. And I don’t mean sit-down volleyball or pretending to be a tree, I mean running, playing sport, etc. Not only does it improve physical fitness, it increases vitality and mental agility and productivity.

    In other words, stop mincing about with abstract solutions and looking for people to blame, and do what everyone knows needs to be done for a change. A sugar tax? It’d be as effective as a chocolate fireguard.

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      December 1, 2015


      Really well put, I had not made the connection between the symptom and the avoided remedy.

      Strong action requires offending some instead of appeasing many.

    2. stred
      December 2, 2015

      Dave. Agree entirely. Obviously we could not send the army in to fight alongside other slightly less nutty ‘moderates’, but the Kurds seem to be brave, organised andcivilised. They also want a secular state. They are asking for help. Do you think it would be a good idea to send say the Paras in to advance from the north and mop up any IS nutters trying to escape, as the Russians are less fussy about bombing and are doing real damage. We pay the army to kill the enemy, but they don’t seem to have anyone to work on since they came back from Afganistan,

      1. stred
        December 2, 2015

        I have been looking at maps of the area. There is a strip controlled by IS in the middle which links to Turkey. The Kurdish area spreads right across the northern part of Syria and over a large part of eastern Turkey. Raqqa is miles from anywhere and the IS is spread all over like dry rot fungus. I can’t see how any anything can be done without a large army and the rebels are miles a way to the west. But the internet connection map shows their area very busy. It must be possible to knock out generation and communications and stop food and arms supplies from Turkey by cutting off the border araes they control. re Vox for maps.

  6. matthu
    December 1, 2015

    Before we contemplate a tax on sugar, let’s hear the full and frank apology from governments around the world how for years they got it completely wrong on the relationship between cholesterol in food and fatness and cholesterol in food and heart attacks.

    How for years they encouraged the food industry to replace cholesterol in foods with substitute ingredients, including sugar.

    And how slow they have been to accept that they may have got it wrong.

    (Let’s also hear about how the tax targeted at road users has kept our roads pot-hole free, or how NI has ensured we all have a worthwhile pension to look forward to.)

  7. Lifelogic
    December 1, 2015

    Indeed it is all about energy in and energy out. Less in than out and everyone loses weight and more in than out and you tend to gain it. I was badly ill for a week a while back and could eat nothing for that week – the result was I lost a stone in that week alone.

    Interestingly statistics show that being slightly over weight (in older age) is linked to better longevity than being slightly under weight.

    The attack on fizzy drink is bonkers (most seem to drink to Low Cal ones now anyway). I see Warren Buffet does not seem to be doing too badly on his Coke. I am 25% Coca Cola he says.


    I would however have more public water fountains in parks, sports centres and schools as they always used to have before the state started spending nearly everything on staff wages and pensions. After all it saves money and millions of wasted plastic bottles. Personally I prefer water and the odd glass of red wine anyway.

    1. Lifelogic
      December 1, 2015

      Well done Wales in moving to an opt out organ donation system, let us hope the rest of the UK follows.

      I see that the Guardian reports on a study of male and female brains.


      I wonder why then that they chose (on average) such different careers & A levels on average. On a spectrum from drama, languages at the female end through to physics, further maths and computer science at the more male end. Often four times as many of one gender than the other at the extremes. If not the brain what is making these choices their feet or guts?

      Also I see that women are (very sensibly) far less likely to approve of the counter productive bombing Syria (or indeed Iraq) than men. A shame it seems they will all be ignored by Cameron and much of Labour.

    2. Lifelogic
      December 1, 2015

      Some public loos are quite useful too they used to have those too.

  8. David Cockburn
    December 1, 2015

    You clearly right about this but it does seem to me to be a problem that sugar and salt are very cheap and easy ways for manufacturers to add flavour to poor quality ingredients. The result is that the cheap foods bought by the poor tend to have lots of sugar in them.
    Obese poor people are something which we are not going to correct with a bit of extra tax.

  9. forthurst
    December 1, 2015

    JR was obviously well brought up such that his scope for dissolution was properly constrained; many children are not so lucky. The problem with sugar is that unlike other foods, it does not impart an appropriate sensation of plenitude after the induction of sufficient kilojoules; moreover, when sugar is present in a drink with an acid (bitter) base, the consumer may not be aware of just how much sugar has been added to impart an overriding sweet taste.
    The question of what, if anything, should be done to draw this fact to people’s attention or to discourage them from overconsumption is worthy of serious debate, but whether a sugar tax (how high?) would be beneficial or simply reduce expenditure on more nutritious fare for its target demographic is a moot point. Certainly, a catering size container of fizzy, sugary water in the supermarket is very cheap but certainly not a sufficient inducement to purchase here. What about the problem of middle aged, middle class people overconsuming claret? What action is required here?

  10. Mike Stallard
    December 1, 2015

    “The balanced diet needs balancing too with the amount of energy you burn, which depends on how active a lifestyle you live. ”

    A lot of the trouble is that boys have two new problems to cope with. The first is, of course, the new computer games which, as it were, nail them to the floor. They are inactive. But then I remember spending a lot of time reading books.
    The second is the fact that they never see men that much. There are a lot of families which are composed entirely of women. Primary Schools are now too dangerous for men to work in. Many Secondary Schools, too, have very few men in them. One (false?) word can get you sacked or suspended for a year under investigation.
    The result, of course, is that cricket, games and sport are stuff which you watch on telly. Children under five have to be escorted everywhere because “it is too dangerous nowadays”. And, of course, girls and boys have to play together which means that the ferocity necessary for young men is confined to after school.
    A tax is a good virtue signaller. But it will not solve these two problems.

  11. Roy Grainger
    December 1, 2015

    Because I am wealthy a sugar tax would not affect my buying choices at all but I imagine it might for poor people. It is odd that the left-wing nanny state crowd want to impose such a regressive tax which disproportionately punishes those least able to afford it. The likes of Jamie Oliver should stop the nonsense and just propose a ban on sugar which would achieve their objective without any tax – then we can all decide if that’s what we want.

    1. Lifelogic
      December 3, 2015

      Lots of sugar and indeed fat often needed for these recipes it seems:-


      Will they tax all the sugar in Oranges, Figs, Dates, Grapes, Apples, Bananas & Beetroot too?

      1. hefner
        December 4, 2015

        Are you really so crass or are you enjoying being “funny”?

  12. Dame Rita Webb
    December 1, 2015

    My mother lives in the most morbidly obese constituency in the UK. Strangely for a safe Labour seat it has an average income way above the national average. So you can tax pop as much cigs but its not going to put many of the punters off. A GP friend of mine often has mothers coming in claiming that their child gets laughed at school because of their size. My friend enquires what do they like to eat most? The answer, as you can expect, is some high calorie snack. Unfortuntely the type of parenting you received seems to be a rarity these days. Mind you Dave’s is partly to blame. He forces local authorities to sell off their playing fields because funds must be found for our glorious foreign aid program. You know like paying for PE lessons in Turkey. WTF are we giving them money for if we no longer give it to India?

  13. Narrow Shoulders
    December 1, 2015

    Government should never be encouraged to introduce new taxes. Even hypothecated taxes such as national insurance and VED become subsumed into the tax take to be wasted by cabinet largesse and voter bribery while the PAYE and consumer serfs are milked.

    If it is not possible to educate those consuming too much sugar then banning the main offenders seems the best solution. Corn syrup offers cheap production and component options so prohibit it from food production offering twin solutions of increased prices and the removal of some bad sugars from the chain.

    Alternatively minimum unit pricing such as proposed to punish moderate drinkers would offer supermarkets increased margins with which to reduce the prices of healthier alternatives. Market forces would seem to be a better solution than government interference.

    Another option is to charge for sugar related NHS visits. This targets the problem individuals directly and may have a malthusian/Darwin effect on the population.

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      December 1, 2015

      The length of time this post has taken in moderation is startling Mr Redwood. The contents do not seem that offensive. If it ever makes it into the pubic domain I will be interested in the edit.

  14. Barry Sheridan
    December 1, 2015

    The obesity crisis has its real roots in the fact that people who pile on the pounds do so because they eat far too much. Blaming fat, sugar or anything else is irrelevant. You can even survive perfectly well eating fast good as long as the intake matches what the body needs. Government should understand this and ought to ensure this message is repeated until the excuse makers who want to blame anything other than peoples greed fall silent.

  15. Dame Rita Webb
    December 1, 2015

    As its popular to quote the sayings of deceased Chinese communists thesedays. You could use this slightly amended one from Deng Xiaoping with regard to Dave and foreign aid. “To get foreigners rich off the backs of the British people is glorious”

  16. The Prangwizard
    December 1, 2015

    We need opinion formers and doctors for example to abandon the weasel words and their PC beliefs and find the courage to speak plainly and say to people that they are fat simply because they eat too much. The overwhelming number of fat people may be victims but victims of their own sloth, laziness and excess.

    1. turbo terrier
      December 1, 2015

      Prang Wizard

      Try walking in any high street or outside any school in dictatorship Scotland and see the effects of unhealthy diet. The doctors if they spoke out would be lynched for telling the truth. No wonder the NHS up here is falling apart. Some health trusts are importing consultants from India paying the £2k air fare to get them to do a 12 hour shift in A&E departments on top of their wages. You cannot make it up.

  17. Iain Gill
    December 1, 2015

    No many are forced to live on mass produced food, and much of it has too much sugar, and salt for that matter. It’s hard for consumer s to see the content and force improvements so tax is a good lever to use. Prices won’t go up makers will use healthier alternatives. So we are issuing half a million ni numbers to EU nationals, per year, and the government thinks immigration is how much? Maths not their strong point.

  18. Old Albion
    December 1, 2015

    I completely agree JR. Sadly some politicians will see a ‘sugar tax’ as just that. another tax to raise money from the masses.

  19. formula57
    December 1, 2015

    If revenue is required, tax soft drugs now illegal (to the great benefit of better deployed police resources).

    If obesity is disapproved of, tax fat people.

  20. a-tracy
    December 1, 2015

    I blame our education system for the amount of poor diets, when proper home economics lessons were scrapped in favour of making pizzas, cakes and nachos what do you expect. When I was at school we took in ingredients to prepare our families tea for that night (with a warning off Mum that if I spoilt it we’d be on toast for tea.) We learnt to make Shepherds Pie, Sausage casserole (although to listen to the experts eating sausages will give us cancer now), we made plate pies and sausage plaits, chicken and vegetable lobby (hotpot), my mother never bought us fizzy drinks (even though there was a pop man that delivered to your home and collected the empties) because she couldn’t afford them and thought they’d rot our teeth so we had water and orange squash.

    You can’t get healthy drinks in most restaurants and pubs if you don’t drink alcohol or wine your choice is fizzy pop or sparkling water that costs as much as a bottle of wine. Any tax on sugar should be ring-fenced for obesity treatment in the NHS but why should the majority be punished for the minorities poor habits, if we don’t smoke we don’t pay tobacco tax, if we don’t drink alcohol we don’t pay for booze tax, however, if we enjoy the occasional fizzy drink we’re facing the prospect of a tax to persuade the bingers too consume less.

  21. Denis Cooper
    December 1, 2015

    Off-topic, en passant:


    “The Government as a whole isn’t aiming to cut immigration – and the Autumn Statement proved it”

    “In the past, the Treasury has sought to inflate its way out of economic trouble. These days it takes a similar approach – not just by artificially increasing the money supply but by inflating the size of the population: quantitative easing meets demographic loosening.”

    Or, as I have put it, a demographic Ponzi scheme.

    1. Martin
      December 1, 2015

      Please have a high sugar drink before you read the Guardian’s similar take


      1. Denis Cooper
        December 2, 2015


    2. turbo terrier
      December 1, 2015


      After another 12 hour shift at 68 have just come home here in dictatorship Scotland to be told the out local Community Council is thinking of spending its windfarm community payment (funding) on buying properties to house refugees. Never mind the residents in the community suffering from fuel debt and poverty. This is what it has come to, the Scottish Devolved Parliament still going flat out to erect turbines, solar and wave energy so that the bill paying population of the UK can “fund” all these hairbrain schemes such as these.

      When if ever will the whole of Westminster excluding the 56 SNP members start listening to our host and his gallant 100 odd collegues who see this for what it really is. One great bl***y scam with the remainder of the UK being the patsy who are footing the bill.

  22. Mac
    December 1, 2015

    Sugar? Seems like only yesterday it was salt.
    Some people will choose to smoke. Some will die youngish, some will die very old. Some folk will choose to eat and drink a lot of what they like, some will die youngish, some will die very old. This could go on for ever with everything, right?
    Then there are those who will live what the state decrees to be a safe, protected and healthy lifestyle. Surprisingly, some will die youngish and some will die very old.
    However, it’s a 100% certainty we’re all going to die and as the last lap gets underway, some will be wondering what they missed and why, while others will be wishing they’d done just that little bit more.
    So to all those, ‘it’s bad for you – I don’t like it so you can’t do it – it’s not healthy – we have to stop it now!’ fellows, let me assure you that while you’re possibly just passed ‘start’ on life’s highway and it looks like a long, almost never ending road ahead with time aplenty to foist your pettiness upon others, trust me, when you get to my end of the road, which, by the way, is cluttered to hell an’ back with tin cans, and look over your shoulder, back down the road of life, you’ll be amazed to see just how short a journey it actually was. Then you’ll realise, too late, what a complete and total waste of your brief time it was being so miserable, trying to foist your misery on others and hating the enjoyment of those who had a little zest for life and were attempting, against all the odds, to enjoy their brief moment in the sun.

  23. JJE
    December 1, 2015

    I agree. When people say a 20% tax will help I think there already is one – VAT!

    I do think excess sugar intake is an issue for many of us, myself included. I have got my own weight back down to the normal range by cutting down a lot on the cakes and biscuits, but that had nothing to do with their pricing.

    Personally I would prefer you all to be able to have a rational debate about our broken and ultimately doomed War on Drugs. When will we follow the route towards seeing drugs as a health and education issue as opposed to one that can be solved by criminalisation?

    Why does the editor of the Daily Mail seemingly run the country?

  24. Iain Moore
    December 1, 2015

    Jamie Oliver for all his preaching to us about the demon sugar, hasn’t realised that there are sugar free alternatives for all the fizzy drinks, which suggests he hasn’t done his research.

    PS If tax was a route to eating well, perhaps we should put a tax on celebrity chefs to dissuade people from using their recipes which usually result in using lots of butter, fats, sugar and heaps of salt.

    1. hefner
      December 1, 2015

      Clearly written by somebody who has not opened a modern recipe book for some time …
      If you had cared to do a bit of research on what Jamie Oliver has been campaigning in the last two-three years with reference to school meals, you would have avoided yourself to look ridiculous.

  25. Ex-expat Colin
    December 1, 2015

    Simplistic – its a self duty of care and responsibility to your charges. I haven’t bought any of the stuff for many years, just fed up with it. Kids get a bit chubby anyway and good exercise deals with most of that…like walking/cycling to school and back.

    I don’t understand the hand wringers at large and thus ignore them. And will avoid their inappropriate muttering and resultant restrictions. Its a stupid people problem…again.

    I note that certain sanitary products cannot be fixed though. If they mess with beer it’ll be back to home brew again, and I get to control the sugar…again!

    Giving money to charities…a few of them have caused be to desist. And I don’t like authority changing that.

  26. MickN
    December 1, 2015

    Good for you John. It looks as though you have thought it through as you do with most things. I hope that your colleagues are able to do likewise and not just get swept along with the latest increase in the nanny state that appears to be the wish of many

  27. ChrisS
    December 1, 2015

    To some politicians and activists the only answer to everything is more tax.

    95% of people who are overweight have made that choice and seem not to have the willpower to do anything about it, despite being aware of the widely agreed detrimental effects this will have on their health. Sadly, that is the choice they have made.

    We should tackle the problem via more education and by reducing the legal maximum of sugar within drinks and food. Of course there would be a financial penalty as well if the NHS was not completely free at the point of use.

  28. agricola
    December 1, 2015

    In part the answer is to persuade parents that excesses are bad for their children. Show restraint. The Government should lean on the food industry, aspects of which do a great job, but where pre-manufactured food is concerned they need to drastically cut down on sugar and other substances that are bad in excess.

    Here you will have a bigger problem because the food industry is a powerful lobby and no doubt buys support from MPs willing to take their shilling. Please tell me that this does not happen.

    UK supermarkets are jam packed with dinners for one, two, and four. You may argue that this is convenient for busy working housewives, but the content very often leads to the problem. Supermarkets here in Spain sell fresh food and very little that has been manufactured. This is the difference and one of the keys to UK obesity. You may not like the word but walk round any UK supermarket and check out the shoppers and what they download onto the check out belt. Belt content and obesity are visibly linked.

  29. Bert Young
    December 1, 2015

    The habits and the tastes that children adopt are always under the scrutiny of parents ; if the supervision and lack of knowledge is there , obesity can be a result . Rather than imposing a tax – that would simply add a cost burden to the family , it would be far better to spread awareness of the dangers . Where obesity is spotted at school , it should then become subject to a discussion with the parents and , occasionally , with the school’s medical officer (or the family GP).

    I am always shocked when I see news clips and other photos that come from the USA ; the level of obesity there is shocking . I have relatives there who often use Facebook ; the evidence is always the same ! My sister – now deceased , put the problem down to the constant snacking between meals – not simply to the sugar intake ; both of her children were type one diabetics . Her husband would always say when challenged , ” Oh let them eat – it’s OK”.

    1. graham1946
      December 1, 2015

      Hear hear, Bert. Education is the key to all these things. How did the kids get hooked on the global warming nonsense? Perhaps we should find out how this indoctrination was done and use that.

  30. CdBrux
    December 1, 2015

    Fully agree.
    The plethora of warnings about this, that and the other type of food could make one think that eating or drinking more or less anything was bad. Surely a more effective way to deal with this type of thing is a good education for children at school and for parents in other ways? I would also agree with strong discouragement for having easy availability of ‘sweets’ and sugary drinks at supermarket checkouts or easily available for children to buy at school for example.

    There was an interesting programme on the BBC last night with a doctor helping out a family. He modified the young child’s diet to something more balanced and, with a couple of other small ideas, seemed to more or less cure his eczema. I can’t help thinking a few more broadcasts from the BBC like that is better use of license payers fees then yet more antiques / home selling dull dross!

  31. JimS
    December 1, 2015

    Perhaps we should have a tax on lobbyists?

    1. hefner
      December 1, 2015


      Today’s delivery smacks of the worst opportunism from a person nicely living in the shaded surroundings of South East England, maybe not yet from a gated community, but wait a few more years …

      It is interesting to note that on this blog we keep hearing of the “left-wing activists this, left-wing activists that”, but never of the huge (and most of the time successful) pressure of various industry lobbying groups.

  32. Antisthenes
    December 1, 2015

    Sugar consumption is declining and has been for quite some time so another nonsense. The problem is of course is that we eat too much and we exercise too little mostly caused by the fact we are more prosperous so can afford more food products and technology has made us less physically active.

    That is the underlining problem to obesity and the one we should be looking to find a solution to. That problem is more severe in certain groups in our society and those groups lack the motivation or awareness to understand or take positive action to tackle the problem themselves. The problem will always be there as not everyone has the education and/or knowledge and/or intellectual ability to help themselves change their living habits to cope with modern living.

    The well intended should mind their own business brigade would do better to stop trying to tax away the problem and concentrate on the underling cause. It does not work anyway and if they were rational and had any common sense would know that full well.

    The answer of course is better education and improved reasoning abilities and a wider dissemination of knowledge. This will happen overtime but slowly anyway if the left is not allowed retard progress in these areas with their ideologies and policies.

  33. Martin
    December 1, 2015

    I do not think the tax will as regards consumption.

    I buy a diet cola cheap own brand in a local supermarket for 18p. Glancing at other loads of shopping at the checkouts most folk seem buy the £2 branded product.

    As the branded product costs more than unleaded petrol a liter I doubt if a few extra pence of tax would affect consumption.

    It could be argues that an extra tax on high sugar goods should be levied to help pay for the NHS costs.

    1. Iain Gill
      December 1, 2015

      Its the cafinne that will kill you 🙂

  34. Livelogic
    December 1, 2015

    What about something on this religious, fake science, beanfest in Paris. Did Obama really fly his whole team plus limos over (burning huge amounts of jet fuel) just to deliver that drivel of a speech? He sounded like a second rate TV evangelist. How stupid does he think the public are?

    Does he really believe the content of his speech himself or does he just think it is good politics or does he just read out the drivel written for him unquestioningly?

    Sea levels have been slowly rising for years there has been no increase in the rate since the CO2 concentration increased. Half a degree in over 100 years (and no warming for 17) is a remarkably World stable climate.

    There is no scientific reason to suspect any warming catastrophe round the corner at all, a little warmer and a bit more C02 is on balance a good think. The hurricane season has been very quiet.

    If and when wind, LED lighting and PV become competitive they will take of anyway without daft government subsidies.

    What on earth are all these greeny dopes on about?

    Why does he not try to sort out real problems with real solution like the pointless wars, clean water, malaria, malnutrition, inoculations and basic medical care in the developing world – where the money would clearly do vastly more good.

    Most of the carbon dioxide “pollution” agenda is causing real net harm, saving little if any CO2 anyway and costing a fortune. Get real Obama and drop this “let’s frighten the children” religion.

  35. oldtimer
    December 1, 2015

    Agreed. This is yet another example of the busybody brigade trying to be too big for their boots.

    1. A different Simon
      December 2, 2015

      Are they going to get Eric Pickles to front the campaign ?

      How many chins has Osborne got ? He’s starting to look like Nigel Lawson did in the old days .

      More “do as I say , not as I do” from the public masters .

  36. Bob
    December 1, 2015

    Have you sold your T&L shares yet?

    1. JJE
      December 1, 2015

      Tate and Lyle got out of the sugar business in 2010 and concentrate on artificial sweeteners!

      The T&L branded sugars that you see on the shelves are part of the American Sugar Holdings group.

      1. graham1946
        December 1, 2015

        I prefer to buy British Sugar, from British farmers beet, made in Bury St. Edmunds. Better to support our own people than add to imports.

      2. Bob
        December 1, 2015


        “Tate and Lyle got out of the sugar business in 2010”

        Oh, did they know about the sugar tax then?

      3. stred
        December 2, 2015

        T and L just lost their patent protection for Splenda. Sucralose is sold for much less now as supermarket own brand. Other sweetners have been linked to health problems. Unfortunately, most sugar free drinks use these and not sucralose.

  37. Barbara1
    December 1, 2015

    Quite right, Mr R. Couldn’t agree more: look at the long-running controversy surrounding aspartame, for instance. We know someone who even says fish and chips should be banned. This has gone far enough.

  38. MikeP
    December 1, 2015

    There is another way for Governments to legislate (and educate) – and it should do to prevent costs to the NHS in future – to flag unhealthy shopping baskets.

    We have become fully accustomed to receiving itemised bills from all large retailers, and in seeing the traffic light data on food packaging. It is therefore a logical next step for supermarkets and EPOS software vendors to have to add a banner to the end of our bills showing the total fat, saturated fat, carbs, sugar and salt quantities in our shopping. Asterisks or other very visible banner warnings could be used to flag particularly heavy quantities of these in the total shop or in individual items. Until folk appreciate what makes up a healthier shop and a more balanced diet we’ll never change shopping or eating behaviour.

  39. David
    December 1, 2015

    I think it would be a good idea if it were used to remove VAT on gyms, swimming etc.
    Of course this would not be possible under the EU but it always worth reminding people of that.

  40. Paul
    December 1, 2015

    A tax on fizzy drinks is a ridiculous idea, etc ed but another measure that will have no impact whatsoever and is wrong in principle. This tax will penalise and hit the responsible poor the most. There is problem with fizzy drinks as far as I’m concerned as long as you don’t drink them morning, noon and night. As a child and young adult I consumed far too many fizzy drinks, 2 or 3 cans a day, but I had a very active lifestyle and my weight was never an issue. People need to take responsibility. In the States I believe they substitute sugar for high fructose corn syrup. I have no idea why or if this is in any way healthier than sugar but it may be worth looking into as it doesn’t alter the taste.

    December 1, 2015

    One hopes that our society does not get to the point where tiny packets of what is said to be pure clean sugar wrapped in tinfoil or cling-film are secretly distributed and sold at pop festivals, university campuses to our future Ministers and other very intelligent people who have absolutely no idea of the true contents or origin but nevertheless choose potluck: a variety of Russian roulette, as their lifestyle, future social and political modus operandi.

    Sometimes one can see in leading politicians, a certain over-emphasis and giving one thousand and one justifications for continuing and promoting the habit of the absurd even to the edge of doom.

    Most people find sugary products increasingly sickeningly-sweet as they grow older and use less sugar quite automatically with perhaps a reverse as their elderliness demands an uplift in energy.

    There is as yet a scarcely known complexity of the human mind and body where “comfort-eating” although fattening may just be what the doctor ordered.

    Taxing first and asking questions later,- sounds somehow American but for their historic hatred of taxation. Tax is seldom welcome.

  42. A different Simon
    December 1, 2015

    Authoritarianism .

    These people don’t believe in personal choice or personal responsibility – or minding their own business .

    Why is it OK for the bureaucracy to discriminate against and bully fat people when they are otherwise ramming diversity and equality down everyone’s throats ?

    We already see parents to put under huge pressure to abort unborn babies who are likely to suffer disability .

    Why do the elite think everyone else should conform to THEIR narrow utopian view and dubious morality ?

    What makes them think they are so perfect – and infallible ?

    Make no mistake – this is the slippery slope to sterilising people with the “fat gene” and eugenics generally .

  43. Ken Moore
    December 1, 2015

    Taxing fizzy drinks is madness so it will probably be embraced by David Cameron like his unhinged policy of recreational bombing.

    Can I just congratulate the Conservative party on officially abolishing ‘boom and bust’.
    Well done George – who would have thought New Labour were right all along.
    Mr Osborne, like his predecessor must know the economy doesn’t work in cycles anymore as his spending forecasts assume perpetual growth….
    Interest rates are already at rock bottom….he couldn’t spend or lower interest rates by way of ‘stimulus’ if there was another downturn.
    No worries then..politicians would never be so foolish as to put petty career or party interests before the long term would they?. The brightest and most capable are surely in charge here??….I don’t think anyone would be foolish enough to put a highly ambitious, cocksure, but clueless individual in charge? . Or would they ?

    1. A different Simon
      December 1, 2015

      The Chelsea Boy is on a roll and that’s for sure .

      He’s the political equivalent of Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy . Isn’t he ? 🙁

      I talked to an ex-Nulabor spin doctor who lives in Wokingham and he told me that back in the day Mandelson was the Prime Minister .

      Apparently Osborne and Cameron are taking their instruction from Mandelson too !

      I didn’t believe it at first but the War on Fat People confirms it to me .

      It must be justified because they have found Weapons of Fat Production this time .

    2. Lifelogic
      December 2, 2015

      It Osborne can find any excuse to tax something he will do. Even the harmless, odourless natural food for trees, plants and crops – carbon dioxide.

  44. fedupsoutherner
    December 1, 2015

    Totally agree with your comments this morning John. When I was growing up we only had crisps, sweets, biscuits etc as a treat. Nowadays all these items are considered to be part of a normal diet when in fact they are totally the opposite. It comes down to choice. You don’t have to stuff yourself full of bad things. Nobody makes you. There is enough information out there for people to make good choices in life. They choose not to and so why should the rest of us who don’t pig out on sugar etc have to pay extra for those that do so?

    Get out and walk, ride a bike, swim or dance, don’t eat too much junk food and for most if not all people the problem will be solved. It is common sense.

  45. Ian wragg
    December 1, 2015

    This is just another socialist tax and revenue raising scam. No stone must be left unturned in the states quest to bankrupt us all.

    1. MikeP
      December 1, 2015

      “No stone should be left unturned…”
      We’ll pardon the pun – but is it stones or TONS of lard walking into our hospitals with diabetes, joint problems, heart disease, needing gastric bands. I hate our nanny state but in this case I think we need to educate folk more on healthier eating. Somehow.

  46. Leslie Singleton
    December 1, 2015

    What I don’t like is the fact that “reduced (or no added) sugar” so often now means either or both “artificial sweeteners” and “increased fat”, neither given the same prominence if any.

  47. English Pensioner
    December 1, 2015

    Its nice to read a bit of sense at last. Taxation, unless at a really punitive level does nothing to change people’s habits so the proposed level is unlikely to achieve much.
    Artificial sweeteners would probably turn out to be a disaster after a period of time. Many people claim aspartame can cause health problems although these are denied on the NHS web site. Certainly as far as I am concerned it leaves a bitter after-taste and I avoid it. Remember that Aspirin was discovered over a 100 years ago and it was only comparatively recently that some of its problems discovered. Who knows what damage might be discovered to have been done by new sweeteners in, say, twenty years time? It could be another case for ‘The Law of Unexpected Consequences’.

  48. Ian B
    December 1, 2015

    This is simple puritanism.

    Without writing an essay, in a nutshell I would argue that the primary binary division in English (and Anglosphere generally) society has been, since the Reformation, between Liberals and Puritans. Liberals believe in individualism, free markets, the agency of the individual to make their own choices, and a general strategy of “mind your own business”. They believe that society is simply the agglomeration of individual action.

    Puritans believe in collectivism, controlled markets, the absence or inadequacy of individual agency, and a general strategy of “mind everyone else’s business”, based on the idea that only a few people are sufficiently morally upright to make choices, which must be then imposed on the rest of the “Reprobate” population (coming from their Calvinist roots in the philosophy of Predestination). They also believe that sensual pleasures of any kind are a snare which induce sin. In this case, the sensual snare being tasty food, and the sin being overweightness.

    The Puritans are on a roll again at the moment, this time under the “Progressive” banner. Hence, this nonsense. It’s time for a Liberal revival, again.

    1. A different Simon
      December 1, 2015

      The term “Liberal” has been misappropriated and now means illiberal .

      As Pat Condell say’s , a Progressive is what happens when a Liberal goes bad .

  49. Anna
    December 1, 2015

    As it happens I thoroughly dislike sugary drinks and think it appalling that too many children have unrestricted access to them, even in the bottle for God’s sake. But it should be a parental responsibility, not State diktat. My daughter was never allowed them at home, although they weren’t banned on social occasions. In turn her children, like her in her childhood, don’t have them at home and actually think ‘fizzy water’ in the form of sparkling mineral water or soda water, is a treat (as opposed to the more usual tap water!), but are not so discourteous as to reject colas offered as the only option on social occasions.

    Education is at fault here. We have a whole generation, possibly two, uneducated at school in what used to be called ‘cookery’, then ‘domestic science’, then ‘home economics’ and now largely abandoned. Do any students coming out of State education these days know the basic food groups and their contribution to physiology? Of course not. State education has failed to educate its students and now complains that they aren’t educated.

    I could go on & on about ‘all things in moderation’ but it is useless. My daughter is a splendid cook, she feeds her children home-cooked food no matter how absorbed in work she happens to be. She just sent me a photo of the chocolate brownies her elder son had baked… how criminal & sugary is THAT? Yet they are all as skinny as rakes, because she knows how to BALANCE their diet.

  50. graham1946
    December 1, 2015

    The Nanny state – a sign that too many people have nothing productive to do. Who pays these wasters? Can you not find out who they are and if they are on the State payroll or get some sort of State money, abolish them? Probably not – the bonfire of the quangos is still waiting to be lit after five and a half years. Perhaps we need another inquiry.

    1. A different Simon
      December 1, 2015

      Here , here .

      What business is it of theirs anyway if people are overweight ?

      Too much time on their hands as you correctly point out .

      Seems yet another example of the elites bashing ordinary people whose only luxury might be a bit of comfort food .

      Strong on the weak , weak on the strong !

      Stark contrasts to the elites attitude of tolerance of paedophilia amongst their own higher orders .

  51. Bob
    December 1, 2015

    Since we have a fabulously well funded public service broadcaster, why does the govt spend taxpayers money advertising on commercial radio stations? At the very least these “infomercials” should be paid for out of TV License revenue.

    Better still, sell the BBC and make the carrying of a specified amount of public service announcments a condition for obtaining a broadcasting licence?

  52. Lifelogic
    December 1, 2015

    Robert Hardman has the Paris, green crap bean feast, about right today in the Mail, a vast tent of self satisfied wafflers.

    Still some good news the government are quietly cutting the green crap subsidies and lots of parasitic green crap fake industries are closing down and people moving to do productive jobs instead. Just abolish them all now and help the economy. Peter Lilly, one of the very few hard science graduates the commons, also had it spot on (on the Daily Politics just now).


  53. LondonBob
    December 1, 2015

    Other countries have tried it and, if it has worked, then yes. Pragmatism is best.

  54. Atlas
    December 1, 2015

    … perhaps the problem is simply that the children are not allowed to run around outside anymore, so burning off those Calories …

    1. Lifelogic
      December 1, 2015

      Too busy playing on their tablets exercising just their fingers. I spent almost half my childhood kicking a foot ball around against a wall, or playing cricket/tennis in the summer. Plus we has to walk to miles and from school every day. From about aged 10 on I had to drop my younger siblings off too first.

  55. Tom William
    December 1, 2015

    Your arguments are sound, but behind all the drive to make people healthy is the fact that unhealthy people cost us all more in taxes to pay for their care. If you have a “free” NHS you tend to support a nanny state.

    I don’t know the solution.

    1. A different Simon
      December 1, 2015

      Disagree .

      If someone dies prematurely ideally whilst in harness they save the country money , make room for the next lot and defuse the call for mass immigration to solve the demographic time bomb .

      The cost of a few weeks in hospital and diabetes is negligible compared with 24 x 7 care in old age and old age pension .

      1. A different Simon
        December 1, 2015

        Tom William , I dispute “the fact that unhealthy people cost us all more in taxes to pay for their care”

        John . From an economic standpoint , eating fatty foods , sugar , drinking and smoking should be encouraged and maybe even subsidised .

  56. Tom William
    December 1, 2015

    Fair point. But what else could we send? Hawks?

    December 1, 2015

    If such a tax is imposed perhaps it can be added to Overseas Aid to compensate Third World farmers whose governments are not in a position to provide subsidies as would be the case for Germany and France which are the largest exporters of sugar from the EU.

    Third World farmers such as those in Zimbabwe were hit very badly to starvation and death-level by tobacco taxes and WHO recommendations which hit home most in advanced countries that not buying tobacco products is a good idea. Tobacco was a Cash Crop and could even be grown in dry conditions when staples like wheat and corn in the droughts of Southern Africa could not be grown or the crops totally wiped out.

    Increasing taxes on many and any commodities can have unforeseen consequences.

  58. behindthefrogs
    December 1, 2015

    I can’t agree. Taxes that might affect life changing conditions like obesity and alcoholism should be encouraged even if the effect is very small, The money raised should be used to reduce other taxes by for example raising NICs thresholds and as a result be largely neutral.

    The treasury would benefit by the small decrease in NHS costs, policing costs etc.

  59. Maureen Turner
    December 1, 2015

    My generation was advised to go to work on an egg then two decades later we we were told two eggs a week was considerate the maximum. Then we had drink a pint of milk a day. Don’t know where we are at present on that one. More recently we read one glass of red wine was health beneficial but then along came the decriers.

    In today’s Daily Express we are told both potatoes and toast can cause liver damage Is there anything left we can eat and enjoy without the nutritionalists or promotional people pushing and pulling us about with often totally contradictory information.

    Sugar and fizzy drinks are the demons of today but six months on it will be another product. If children are becoming overweight the first responsibility to sort this out lies with the parents. Exercise plays an equal part to nutritious food in keeping kids fit and healthy and if youngsters can find a sport they really enjoy and it fits in with the family’s budget then surely that’s where to start.

    Off topic. Are Conservative MPs going to be given a free vote on potential air strikes on Syria? I accept the UK is already flying sorties on behalf of the USA but this is a step up
    in our commitment.

  60. hefner
    December 1, 2015

    As some others have said, would you have been against a tax on cigarettes? It is fine and dandy to say this sort of things when coming out of Waitrose, try this on people who have to do their shopping from Poundland. Out of touch, lately?

    As for the person who advocates “get out and walk, ride a bike, swin or dance”, what about the “common sense” that (some) people might not have the time and/or money to spend on such activities.

  61. JJE
    December 1, 2015

    According to Wikipedia later model Typhoons can carry air launched cruise missiles and air launched ground attack missiles – Storm Shadow and Brimstone.

  62. ian wragg
    December 1, 2015

    Because Dave and Clogg stopped the military buying spares for them as with the maritime recce planes, we didn’t need them any more.
    We are ruled by idiots who want to bomb Syria with a £100,000 Brimstone bomb to take out a £10,000 pick up truck.
    PPE politicians, Churchill they are not.

  63. Handbags
    December 1, 2015

    This is a freedom issue isn’t it?

    What I do to MY body is MY business.

    If I want to eat sugar, eat junk food, smoke, booze – that’s entirely up to me, it’s got nothing to do with a loud mouthed elite who all live in London – and it’s certainly nothing to do with government.

    Most of it is simply another form of snobbishness – just one more reason to look down their nose at those horrid common people.

    December 1, 2015

    Off Topic:

    Rt Hon James Brokenshire, Home Office Minister; Immigration Bill, BBC Parliament.

    He seems to have said there are 1000 unaccompanied underage ( children ) who have managed to enter the UK ( I cannot recall the timescale ) illegally. He says he has distributed these… one thousand children… throughout Local Authorities in the UK.

    In less enlightened times, no, in times prior to the present time, such a “by the way” announcement would have resulted him being shackled by the neck to oxen or other available farm animals, and laboriously force-walked along the perimeter of our island , along the coasts so he might acquire despite his undoubted education and intelligence the capacity of this island to tolerate his wisdom.

    Conclusion: Farm animals are grossly under-utilized in Parliamentary discipline.

  65. stred
    December 1, 2015

    Perhaps to protect the bombers from being shot down by Turkish fighters if they stray over the border in Turkey or Turkish Cyprus for a few seconds.

  66. Iain Gill
    December 1, 2015

    I see that the Ofsted Chief is saying all those religiously segregated schools in Bradford are crap and further emergency measures are needed. Can you ask the sec of state to start sacking people on cushy public sector payroll jobs responsible for this mess and quickly. Send the army in to take over the schools if you have to. Big bold radical steps needed. And give parents a choice.

  67. acorn
    December 1, 2015

    How about a Body Mass Index (BMI) tax? Every time you buy something, anything, the standard price is multiplied by your BMI divided by the national government standard BMI. That should keep the poor, cheap carbs eating, prolateriat from clogging up transport systems and McDonalds; KFC and Food Banks etc.

    Do you remember that TV series “Sliders” in the nineties? A boy genius and his comrades travel to different parallel universes, trying to find their way back home. In one episode they stopped at a Burger Van. They had to show their licence from the government, to consume cholesterol or something similar. That’s the way to go! 🙂

  68. MikeP
    December 1, 2015

    Like the Tornado, they’re multi-role combat aircraft, yes “fighters” to the layman but they can carry and fire air-to-ground missiles.

  69. Anonymous
    December 1, 2015

    There was plenty of cheap sugar around when we were young. We weren’t particularly active – or cold.

    What there was against getting fat was plenty of shame and bullying against getting fat. These days fat is treated as a matter of pride and human right.

    Some of the most confident and domineering people are fat too – far from claims that they are a group that should be pitied.

    1. Anonymous
      December 2, 2015

      It was a matter of parental shame to have a fat kid, too.

      Now it is a matter of arrogant pride to be fat and to have fat kids as well.

  70. Iain Gill
    December 1, 2015

    1 because of the raf publicity machine likes to make itself look good
    2 to play silly buffers with the Russians
    3 because we have so few serviceable tornadoes
    4 because the politicians are clueless

  71. Chris S
    December 1, 2015

    Could be they expect to need the Typhoons to fight off the Russians !

    Actually JJE is right. The Eurofighter is now supposed to be all things to all men. fighter, Ground attack and maritime strike aircraft.

    Millions are being spent to give it these additional roles and it won’t do any of the extra roles as well as a purpose built plane would have done.

  72. Tom Winstanley
    December 1, 2015

    The incidence of obesity, say 50 years ago, was negligible and had no consequences for society as a whole. Accordingly, legislation would have been pointless. Circumstances alter cases and while the idea of legislation on this matter is repugnant to me, the implications for society are now so serious that I believe action is necessary. No one form of action will solve the problem but through gritted teeth, I have to admit that taxing sugar might well have a role to play. Inaction is no longer an option; the consequences for the economy and NHS are too dire.

  73. bratwurst
    December 2, 2015

    Most (if not all) tranche 1 Typhoons have now been upgraded to FGR4 standard – air-to-air / ground attack / reconnaissance capability.

  74. Lindsay McDougall
    December 4, 2015

    There is a simple method of avoiding the advance of the nanny state in dealing with this sort of issue – stop making health treatment free at the point of consumption. We don’t have to charge 100% of the costs; even 10% would have an effect. This would have to be on a no fault basis, so that administration was easy.

    Rationing health care by any other means would be fraught with controversy, as we have already seen with the denial of expensive drugs. An age based cap, charging for self inflicted or partially self inflicted health problems, denying all but palliative care to sufferers from advanced dementia, all of these would be highly unpopular with some.

Comments are closed.