If you want to stem rising obesity levels, sugary drinks should be taxed like cigarettes. So urges the UK Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which is calling for pilots of taxes that hike prices by 20 per cent. The idea is to lower consumption by making sugary drinks dearer, a strategy known to cut sales of cigarettes and alcohol.
These medical busybodies seem to be in permanent awe of the law of demand, as if it was some fantastic new discovery. And this is their idea of progress...
Potential health benefits of reducing calorie intake were demonstrated after the Cuban economy collapsed in the late 1980s, says Simon Capewell, on the steering committee for the academy's report. Hard-up citizens ate an average of 1000 calories a day less. Within a decade or so, the incidence of obesity halved, with falls of 51 and 35 per cent respectively in diabetes and heart attacks (American Journal of Epidemiology, doi.org/bjzg25).
The study in question found the following:
Cuba's economic crisis of 1989–2000 resulted in reduced energy intake, increased physical activity, and sustained population-wide weight loss.
...The crisis reduced per capita daily energy intake from 2,899 calories to 1,863 calories. During the crisis period, the proportion of physically active adults increased from 30% to 67%, and a 1.5-unit shift in the body mass index distribution was observed, along with a change in the distribution of body mass index categories.
Considering that the average man needs 2,500 calories a day, Cuban citizens were effectively put on a starvation diet in this period while being forced to work harder for less money (ie. advanced socialism). It is scarcely surprising that rates of obesity fell amongst a hungry population. (The obesity rate fell from 14% to 7%—the 7% were presumably Communist Party apparatchiks.) Nor is it surprising that the poverty fetishists of the medical establishment would cite such a precedent approvingly.