UK Chancellor George Osborne has used his latest budget to declare war on free markets and consumer choice – in the guise of protecting vulnerable souls from the deadly threat of fizzy drinks.
Note the weasel justification that this will “encourage companies to reformulate by reducing the amount of added sugar in the drinks they sell.”
But as Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs points out the fizzy drinks industry already made this move years ago, without any sledgehammer fiscal nudging from headline-grabbing politicians.
Osborne says he hopes the makers of fizzy drinks will reformulate their products. They have already done so. They are called things like Diet Coke, Pepsi Max, Coke Zero and Coke Life.
If people don’t want to drink weird tasting drinks made with vile stuff like saccharine it is certainly not for want of product availability. Indeed, when I go round to people’s houses and they mix me a gin and tonic I all too frequently find myself going “bleeuch” and then having to chuck the noisome concoction down the sink because what they have given me is “Slimline” tonic made with some filthy chemical rather than proper tonic made with nice, wholesome sugar.
Snowdon has done a lot of research into the issue of taxes on sugary drinks and found them to be utterly pointless, except as a crude revenue raising tool.
Actually that’s a lie. It’s not remotely spooky or coincidental that I was eating bacon when I read this because I always eat bacon at breakfast with my newspaper.
The reason I always eat bacon at breakfast, every day, without fail, is because bacon tastes delicious. It’s one of the three main reasons God invented the pig (the others being ham and sausage, obviously). I like it so much that sometimes I wonder whether I should become a vegetarian, just so that I can experience that incredible thing all well-adjusted vegetarians go through whereby they realise just how joyless and pointless being a vegetarian is and are seized by an insanely powerful urge to eat a bacon sandwich. And then they do eat a bacon sandwich and tears stream from their eyes and celestial choirs sing the Hallelujah chorus and the interior of their mouth explodes in a gustatory orgasm and they vow never to return to the dark side again. (Cara Delevinge will experience something similar, probably, when she finally remembers that she isn’t actually a lesbian).
Britain’s “obesity epidemic” is mainly caused by the fact that its population are lazy slobs and not because they eat too much, a shock new study called The Fat Lie has found.
The only reason the study – produced by Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) – is shocking is because it contradicts one of the great received ideas of our politically correct times: that fatties are the hapless victims of the rapacious and bullying food and drink industry which pressures them into eating and drinking far too much fat and sugar.
What Snowdon’s research clearly shows that this claim is nonsense. Yes, it is indeed true that British people are getting porkier. Since 2002 the average body weight of English adults has increased by two kilograms, contributing to Britain’s unenviable status as the fattest country in Europe.
But what is rarely mentioned by health campaigners is that this rise in obesity over three decades has coincided with a steady fall in average sugar and fat consumption.