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From The Socialist newspaper, 29 October 2015

Condescending sugar tax debate misses real causes of poor diet

Iain Dalton

Taxing sugar has hit the headlines. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver backs calls for a 10 to 20% duty on high-sugar products.

After weeks of criticism, Tory health minister Jeremy Hunt released the report 'Sugar reduction: the evidence for action' on 22 October.

Poor diets are resulting in the growing prevalence of obesity and type-2 diabetes. But a sugar tax was just one of eight proposals in government agency Public Health England's report. Others include curbing advertising and supermarket promotions.

Some health experts suggest another of the proposals - 'reformulation' (changing recipes) - holds the key to tackling the crisis.

Some food companies have already reduced levels of sugar in their products. But this often means simply swapping sugar for another - sometimes controversial - sweetening additive. This doesn't address the underlying problem of over-producing food with little nutritional value because it's more profitable.

Moreover, only targeting high-sugar products misses out just how much sugar is used in other processed foods. This includes savoury products such as soups, ready meals, gravy - and even bread!

Many working class people will resent the paternalistic approach of taxation. The reality of our lives is often zero-hour contracts, low pay, long working hours and commutes. We frequently don't have the time or money to eat as we would wish.

Union

A shorter working week with no loss of pay was a historic demand of the trade union movement. Today, it would mean workers have time to prepare healthy meals.

Affordable workplace canteens serving nutritious food would lead to less reliance on fast food or packed lunches containing easy snacks.

The only way to fully control what we eat is to own it. The Socialist Party says: take big food production and distribution companies - alongside supermarkets - into public ownership, under democratic control.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 29 October 2015:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Unite to fight divided Tories

'Momentum' must mobilise for real and lasting change

Hinkley deal - no point in nuclear

Sugar tax debate misses real causes of poor diet

First new grammar school in 50 years bolsters elitism

Them & Us

What we saw


International socialist news and analysis

Israeli government fans the flames of conflict

CWI news in brief


Socialist Party youth and students

What are the lessons of the 2010 student movement?

South African student solidarity demo

Students march in Leeds for free education


Workplace news and analysis

Steel industry and the battle for jobs

For a fighting and democratic Unison general secretary, vote Roger Bannister

Morrisons workers deserve fair pay and conditions

Hull council in aggressive attack on union convenors

Kill the Bill!

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Film review: Suffragette

Teachers and 'growth mindset'

Townsend Productions presents two critically acclaimed pieces of socialist theatre


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Fund the fight for socialism at home and internationally

TUSC councillor calls for local Labour to back Corbyn's anti-cuts stance

Housing crisis on the agenda for Socialist Party in Reading


 

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Related links:

Food:

triangleBook that inspired me: God's bits of wood

triangleBooks that inspired me: The Road to Wigan Pier

triangleLife in lockdown - being home from school when you're poor is hard

triangleBosses profit out of 'starvation' food parcels

triangleProtests in solidarity with Indian farmers

Tax:

triangleTerry Fields MP, Prisoner DV 3695 - The jailing of 'poll tax' rebel and Militant

triangleBirmingham Clean Air Zone a tax on the poor

triangleG7 tax deal won't challenge corporate power

triangleReaders' opinion

Health:

triangleTV Review: Stateless blames mismanagement rather than system

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trianglePublic sector pay - Prepare for action!

Pay:

triangleIsrael: Hospital ancillary workers' strike suspended

triangleTower Hamlets Labour backs Tory cuts

Zero-hour contracts:

triangleCovid and precarious workers - union organisation vital

Low pay:

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Trade union:

triangleNew left NEC meets - Organise the fight back now

Public ownership:

triangleProtect the NHS - Funding, Pay, PPE, Public ownership

Supermarket:

triangleUsdaw elections - right makes gains but Broad Left builds

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