Friday, 27 April 2018

Fanatics cannot be appeased

I ended yesterday's post by saying...

I doubt that there is any economic lever - short of rationing - the government could pull to reduce obesity rates, but even if they found a way of reducing the rate from the current 26 per cent to, say, 24 per cent, do you think that would be enough for them? Would 20 per cent? 15 per cent? Of course not. We are now set on a path of government intervention into one of the most personal parts of our lifestyles that will go on forever unless we stand up for ourselves. 

 Today, as if to prove my point, we have this...

Taxing chocolate and other sweet foods would be a more effective anti-obesity strategy than the new “sugar tax” on fizzy drinks, a new analysis suggests.

A major study by Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, predicts that adding 10 per cent to the price of confectionary [sic], cakes and biscuits could lead to a 7 per cent drop in purchases.

In other words, the activist-academics (who include Theresa Marteau) reckon that the price elasticity of these products is -0.7. Perhaps it is, but only in 'public health' could such a mundane observation be turned into a twelve page study and national news coverage. They didn't even bother to model the impact on calorie intake or obesity and - needless to say - they gave no thought to how much these taxes would cost consumers.

Having no academic merit, the study was obviously cobbled together for political reasons. Expect to see further revelations about taxes reducing the consumption other food products in the future.

I gave a comment to The Sun about this proposal and I issued this statement on behalf of the IEA...

“Why doesn’t the government just give us ration cards and be done with it? This study shows us where we are heading if we keep capitulating to the fanatics. What people eat is none of the Government’s business and there is no reason why people in Britain, most of whom are not obese, should be ripped off in this way.

“There needs to be a moratorium on all nanny state bans and taxes while we wait to see how the regressive sugar tax and Public Health England’s food reformulation scheme plays out. The early indications are that consumers are unhappy with both of them.”

Meanwhile, Jamie Oliver has made it clear that a 9pm watershed ban on 'junk food' advertising is only the start. He wants all advertising for food that is high in fat, sugar or salt banned, including 'product mentions in TV shows'.

The government should have learned by now that fanatics can never be appeased.

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