Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/876/21633
From The Socialist newspaper, 29 October 2015
Condescending sugar tax debate misses real causes of poor diet
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.
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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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.
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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
The Socialist 29 October 2015 |
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