Wednesday 30 January 2013

Sugar is not evil, but hysterical, authoritarian journalists are

Those of you who don't have a subscription to The Times will be dismayed to hear that the nation's erstwhile newspaper of record is capable of publishing the same hastily knocked off, empty-headed, knee-jerk garbage as the rest of the media. I offer some choice cuts from Sarah Vine's article about sugar—titled 'Sugar is not evil — but marketing it to appeal to juvenile minds is'—as incontrovertible evidence.

... Of course sugar, per se, is not evil; but the overpromotion and overconsumption of it is. In Britain, every corner shop and supermarket is packed with the stuff. What’s worse, everything about the presentation and marketing of high-sugar foods is designed to appeal to the juvenile mind. Get them hooked young, and you’ll have loyal customers for life. And even if that life turns out to be foreshortened by obesity-related illness, no matter. Plenty more bringing up the rear.

All this talk of hooking 'em young and replacing those who die with fresh recruits beings to mind the rhetoric about the tobacco industry. Sure enough, Vine is quick to draw parallels. In fact, she reckons that those who make sweeties are even more depraved.

If the tobacco or alcohol lobby behaved in such a way, we would be justifiably horrified. But even those who make and sell alcopops to teenagers wouldn’t have the brass neck to push their products on primary school children. 

Could that be because they're completely different products, as evidenced by the fact that tobacco and alcohol can only be sold to those aged 18 or over? Vine is too busy playing the "think of the children" card to make such trivial distinctions. Not just the "think of the children" card, but also the "think of the parents" card.

Parents can only do so much. I can influence what my daughter eats at home, but in a few years she’ll be off to secondary school, and then who knows how many corner shops will enjoy her patronage on her way home? 

It's a chilling thought. If lured into a corner shop by the sugar industry and its unscrupulous allies, this poor teenager could be exposed not only to Curly Wurlies, but also to Kit Kats and Lion bars. Before she knows it, she could be experimenting with midget gems and liquorice all sorts. Clearly, what is needed here is government intervention and lots of it.

If sugar was more expensive, sweets would once again become what they ought to be: treats, to be consumed occasionally; and not, as they currently are, cheap and readily available empty calories that the young all too often eat in place of real food.

Yes, the government should make penny chews cost 2p, thereby completely pricing young people out of the market.

Dare to suggest such a thing to the food lobby, however, and they become as hysterical as a group of toddlers in a Haribo factory.

As opposed to your own calm and rational reaction to a press release from a single issue pressure group?

And when, yesterday, more than 60 organisations, including the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, backed a recommendation by the food and farming charity, Sustain, for a tax on fizzy drinks in the next Budget, they really threw their toys out of their prams.

Did they really? This is the statement released by the British Soft Drinks Association. Which part of it is the hysterical, toy-throwing bit? The bit where they say obesity is "a serious and complex problem" or the bit where they say they "recognise our industry has a role to play in the fight against obesity"?

Their response reminded me of the head of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, when he said that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”.

Tobacco, alcohol and now guns! Any other bogeyman you want to throw into the mix? Crack dealers, perhaps? Human traffickers? Paedos?

Seriously though, what was said that was hysterical?

They issued dire warnings, predicting “a disastrous impact” if the Government were to acquiesce, adding that it would affect: “the poorest families hardest at a time when they can least afford it”.

Oh, you must mean when the British Soft Drinks Association said "Putting up taxes even further will put pressure on people’s purses at a time when they can ill afford it." Yeah, that was real inflammatory stuff. You know what it reminded me of? That guy from the National Rifle Association saying he wanted to put armed guards in every school in America.

What nonsense. Last time I checked, tap water in Britain was still free and potable. No one is going to go thirsty if the price of a can of Coke doubles.

No one's saying that people are going to go thirsty—that's a straw man you just built. What people are saying is that indirect taxes on price inelastic goods are regressive. Do you know why? (The clue's in the elasticity part.) Because people are not going to stop drinking Coke and start drinking nothing but water.

The only people who would experience hardship would be the drinks manufacturers, who have been coining it for decades. 

Businesses turning a profit? Boo!

The Government should seriously consider these recommendations, not just for the good of the public purse, but also for the health of the nation.

And I should seriously consider cancelling my subscription to The Times, not just for the good of my bank account, but also for the good of my blood pressure.


Jonathan Bagley said...

" many corner shops will enjoy her patronage on her way home?"

That depends on how much pocket money you give her and whether you tell her she is not to buy things on the way home.

Ivan D said...

I find it hard to believe that The Times published such ill informed hysterical rubbish. Who is this revolting woman? Worryingly, she is backed in the admittedly sparse comments section. Clearly sugar is the new tobacco. A financial empire built on slavery so it was and no possible good could come of that!

Christopher Snowdon said...

I believe she is the wife of Michael Gove so perhaps the line between parents bringing up children and the government bringing up children is already quite blurred.

Ivan D said...

That does at least partially explain Michael Gove.

That particular line is already well blurred but, in my experience the children are refreshingly adept at seeing through the politicians.

Sarah said...

I'm surprised at Sarah Vine here. Her articles are usually well-informed and interesting.

I'm with Jonathan on what to do about her daughter - if she has no money, she won't buy sweets. Anyway, if her greatest fear is that her daughter become obese, she should know that it's not by buying the odd packet of sweets that this is going to happen.

I had a free subscription to the Times but it's run out and I'm not giving money to Murdoch so I haven't renewed it.

Unknown said...

Last time I checked, tap water in Britain was still free and potable

It must be a long time since she checked, silly woman.

Furor Teutonicus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Furor Teutonicus said...

XX If the tobacco or alcohol lobby behaved in such a way, we would be justifiably horrified.XX

Ahhh....??? WOULD we?

Basically, I could not GIVE a shit.

Bastards (anything under 21, and quite a few OVER 21), are NOT my concern.

IF smoking and drinking were as "dangerous" as these wankers say it is, I have one question; "Why did the gene pool not wipe us out YEARS ago?"