You must have been living in a cave lately to not have heard the discussion there is around the amount of sugar in our diets.
Or more specifically the added sugar in our food and drinks. Jamie Oliver has been spear heading the campaign for it to be made easier for us to see precisely how much sugar is in the products we consume, and for a sugar-tax to be applied, pushing up the price according to sugar levels.
Suffice to say there has been a lot of ‘healthy’ debate about this. There’s people like me, who think it’s a marvellous idea (I’ll tell you why shortly), and then there’s others who think it’s just another way to tax us and bleed us dry.
Well, let’s start with the basics, sugar is largely responsible for obesity as it is easily converted into fat and is therefore stored by the body if it is not immediately used (I’m sure I’m remembering this right from my biological molecules module last year, let me know if I’m wrong though). It also is a HUGE factor in tooth decay – two massive drains on the NHS. In my son’s class at school I know of three children who have had to have the majority of their baby teeth removed because of decay. THEY ARE FIVE. And contrary to common belief, it does matter. This is why dentists remove decaying baby teeth, because otherwise the decay spreads to the ‘adult’ teeth.
So, in summary, sugar is pretty bad for our health. That’s not really a disputable fact. But, it wouldn’t be such a problem if people didn’t consume it the way they currently do. And we only consume it in such vast quantities because it is added into our food and drink, quite often when there is no need.
I’d heard of the sugar-addiction theory, so I thought I’d give it a whirl, just to see if a normal person could really relate to it.
For a month I did not eat or drink anything with added sugar. I had naturally occurring sugar from the fruit that I ate, but nothing else. One night I pilfered a chocolate button that my son had been given from his Grandma. Sheesh. It didn’t taste the same as I remembered. And there had been a Twirl in the cupboard with my name on for a couple of weeks. I had no compunction to eat it.
I wonder, with so many people drinking fizzy drinks as standard, eating cakes and sweets routinely, not to mention those who don’t cook from scratch, just how much they are feeding their own sugar addiction every day? I wasn’t convinced about it before, but there would appear to be some bones to the theory.
So why should we have a sugar tax? Well, I think anything that can be done to deter people from buying this sugar-soaked food has got to be good thing. If it’s going to reduce consumption, it’s got to be a good thing. And to the people who say it’s their choice what they consume, you’re right, it is your choice. But what about your children? When you give them sugary drinks and sweets, you are fuelling their own sugar-addiction and paving the way for them to suffer tooth decay and obesity. If I was feeling comfortable in company, I would say it’s tantamount to child abuse. But I’m sure that it would be considered a little harsh.
If you can’t afford the sugar tax, then you shouldn’t be buying this crap anyway. And if the sugar tax doesn’t stop you, then I would hope that you would look at the sugar content and decide yourself if it was worth it. At the moment we are blind. There is no clear way of understanding. And how can we make informed choices if the information is in gobbledygook?
I think the crux of this is that we don’t need all this sugar in our diets. There is nothing beneficial about it for us. You may get the sugar rush which’ll make you as mad as a box of frogs for all of five minutes, but then you’ll get the comedown. Bit like the nicotine high that you see seasoned smokers desperately trying to drag out of every puff.
And if you stop buying all this junk you don’t need, you’ll save yourself a small fortune. Which is why, I’m guessing, that there has been so little support of this idea in government. But, you know, I could be wrong.
And for everyone out there who’s saying ‘what’s wrong with a treat?’, my answer is ‘Nothing, but it should be just that, a treat’ and anyone else who says ‘but the kids will miss it’. Well, I’m sure my kids would love to have chocolate for breakfast lunch and tea, not to mention not wear their seatbelts, and my two-year-old just LOVES to run in the road. But do I let them? Absolutely not. Because I am their parent, and it is my job to look after them, and sometimes that means that I have to say ‘No’. Not because I am mean, or boring. Because I love them. And I’m sure that most parents love their children and would happily try to prevent their child having to have their teeth removed, or becoming obese.
So ditch the sugar.