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.