Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Public Health England is only carrying out Conservative Party policy

It's peak season for nanny statists this month. As is traditional, Public Health England and Action on Sugar have been first out of the blocks...

Public Health England calls for ‘pudding tax’ after children found to eat 18 years’ worth of sugar by age 10

This is just another way of saying that children are eating twice as much sugar as the government reckons they should. But, as I explained to the Daily Mail, there is an obvious reason for that:

Chris Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said sugar consumption had already been drastically slashed. 'The only reason children are eating twice as much sugar as the Government recommends is that the Government arbitrarily halved the sugar guidelines,' he said.

'These unrealistic and unscientific new guidelines opened the door to government interference in the food supply on a vast scale. The reality is that sugar consumption in Britain is significantly lower than it was in the 1970s.'

Like every 'public health' press release about sugar, the agenda is to soften us for the colossal experiment in state control of the food supply that will go into overdrive in the spring when Public Health England's calorie caps are officially announced. PHE's Alison Tedstone wants the government to start taxing food if the chefs and food manufacturers don't yield to her deranged demands.

This has not gone down well with many Conservative MPs. For the second time in a week, they are up in arms about what they see as PHE's overreach.

As encouraging as it is to see politicians speak out against this nonsense, they are the ones who are 'in authority'. PHE is only there to carry out government policy and, make no mistake, all of this - the reformulation, the calorie caps, the threat of food taxes - is government policy.

I've written about this for The Telegraph today:

The Childhood Obesity Plan, published in August 2016, promised a "broad, structured sugar reduction programme" and "calorie caps for specific single serving products."

It also promised that, from 2017, it would be "setting targets to reduce total calories in a wider range of products... including the out of home sector." The second chapter of the Childhood Obesity Plan, published last June, explicitly warned that the government "will not shy away from further action, including mandatory and fiscal levers, if industry is failing to face up to the scale of the problem through voluntary reduction programmes."

This has been stated policy for several years. It's great that MPs are complaining about it now, but it's a bit late. 

When the government promised food reformulation backed up with the threat of "mandatory and fiscal levers" in 2016, it seemed like a good way of getting Jamie Oliver off its back. Targets were set and the can was kicked down the road. It is only now that MPs are waking up to the reality that the Department of Health considers a calorie to be an unhealthy ingredient and that the phrase "fiscal levers" refers to regressive food taxes.

.. Conservative MPs are right to be concerned about the ramifications of wholesale state interference in the food supply, the like of which no democratic country has introduced in peacetime. No doubt the fanatics at PHE are relishing the challenge, but rather than complain about the quango, politicians should change the policy.

The article's paywalled I'm afraid, but if you've got a subscription do read it.

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