Don’t tax fat, tax sugar

  • 19 Nov 2010
  • Reading time 3 mins
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Last week’s Panorama programme called Tax the Fat explored whether we should be taxing high fat foods to help deal with the epidemic of obesity and diabetes. Fat is not the culprit, it’s sugar. Twenty years ago there were 30 million diabetics in the world. Today there are 300 million. In another 25 years the estimate is close to half a billion diabetics – more than all of America! That’s the equivalent of a new diagnosis every three minutes in the UK with half our population obese! There is no way any economy will be able to cope with these kind of costs.

Wake up humanity- this is self-destruction. Of course we have to act – no government can shirk this responsibility. Right now the UK government have invited the food industry to help sculpt food and health policy. The insanity of this was well explored in Felicity Lawrence’s recent article in the Guardian. Their motive is profit for shareholders, not the public’s health. Before any health policy is effected you have to know it’s effective. In my July Newsletter I make it clear why fat is not driving the diabetes, heart disease or obesity. It’s sugar.

In Denmark they’ve introduced a sugar tax on foods with high sugar. In Sweden there’s a new diet sweeping the nation called LCHF, which stands for Low Carb, High Fat. This harks back to the ketogenic Atkins type diet. Butter sales are up 20% and the nation's weight statistics have stopped going up. This is a low GL diet, although not perhaps the one I’d recommend. A low glycemic load (GL) diet has been proven, time and time again, to be superior for weight loss and reducing diabetes risk, so why don’t we generate policy based on science? Norwegians have voted to tax sugar, but not fat.

Wake up Britain. When you are the fattest nation with the fastest rising diabetes epidemic why not look to those that are thinnest and healthiest for inspiration? I do believe we are going to have to make good food less expensive and bad food more expensive and really start to educate in schools about nutrition and health. But when government policy is still promoting the value of eating more carbs it shows we are not even off the block. Why not stick VAT on high sugar foods? After all, they are certainly not essential.

America is trying to tax sugary drinks. These drinks, sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, are a recipe for disaster. Even though fructose appears to have a low GL that’s only because the body can’t easily turn it into sugar. Instead, it has to turn it into fat! Most cola drinks contain caffeine, so you pee more, and salt to make you thirsty. These, then, make you drink more. Since fructose doesn’t raise your blood sugar level immediately you don’t get the feedback to stop drinking, so you keep drinking, and they keep earning. This is evil! We have so many people know reporting weight losses of 1 stone (14 pounds/6kg) a month and reversal of diabetes on my low GL diet. As Marcel Proust said “The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands, but seeing with new eyes.” What do you think?

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