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Day to Day Politics: Hi, Sweety. Mixing sugar with capitalism.

Tuesday 9 January 2018

When I first posted this article three years ago it gained little exposure. It was the same with cigarettes when they were first suspected of having cancerous ingredients, and we all know how that ended. Now the medical profession are trying, once again, to have a tax on sugary drinks instigated.

I have no doubt that sugar, fat and salt will follow the tobacco path and companies will face class actions in the future. But not before the obsession of capitalism’s greed has squeezed its last grasp from the unfortunates it harms.

It will sing capitalism’s voice of “choice” but eventually capitalism’s murderous ways will way to a greater knowledge.

”How About a Fat Policy That Saves Lives and Money?”

When in opposition political parties are often accused of having no policies. Remember Tony Abbott’s four years of constant negativity to everything? The NO approach to everything. Oppositions assume that it’s not in their best interests to reveal policy because incumbent Governments will steal them. I’m not sure that I subscribe to that theory.

So they generally reveal their policies during an election campaign. The last one was an exception. Abbott revealed a Paid Parental Leave scheme and the others were disclosed after he achieved victory. They were of course a deception that had their genesis in multiple lies.

One of these policies is a fee (a tax) on visits to the doctor. Two dollars of a proposed seven dollar goes to the doctor and five dollars into a research fund to cure diseases. All very noble you might say. Well except its mainly the old who are the most ill. What if the Labor Party countered that with a policy that addresses the health problems of today. It could be very simple with little cost attached. No need for a forty billion dollar fund. The only problem is one of ideology. The current conservatives proposal has nothing to do with lowering the

Cost of health but is purely a philosophical budgetary statement.

FAT, SUGAR and SALT are the major contributors to obesity heart disease and many other health problems. These three ingredients kill more people than tobacco and alcohol combined. All three are found in fast and packaged food. In Australia obesity has reached epidemic proportions.

Governments continually tell us about the spiralling costs of our health system and not to far into the future health will take up the largest percentage of the budget.If science tells us that these three ingredients are killing us at an alarming rate you would think it was only a matter of common sense to at least reduce the amount we digest.

Just to digress I recently said to my daughter when one of her children was drinking a can of soft drink:

”Would you sit the child down and pore 13 teaspoons of sugar into his mouth?”

“Of course not,” she answered.

“That’s the amount of sugar in the can,” I responded.

A quote of mine ( years old now) that leads into my argument:

“It is only when the health bill of this nation reaches unaffordable proportions that the government will legislate for a reduction in the amount of salt, fat and sugar in processed and fast foods. But the conservatives will probably still oppose it on the basis of freedom of choice.”

The Lancet in its latest publication reported on the “Most comprehensive global study to date shows obesity rates climbing worldwide.”

Here are some comments from the report:

The authors warn that the study presents a worrying picture of substantial rises in obesity rates across the world and say that concerted action is urgently needed to reverse this trend.

In high-income countries, some of the highest increases in adult obesity prevalence have been in the USA (where roughly a third of the adult population are obese), Australia (where 28% of men and 30% of women are obese), and the UK (where around a quarter of the adult population are obese).

The prevalence of overweight and obesity in childhood has increased remarkably in developed countries, from 17% in 1980 to 24% in 2013 in boys and from 16% to 23% in girls. Similarly, in developing countries, rates have risen from roughly 8% to 13% in both boys and girls over the three decades.

There can be no doubting that the science is saying that the intake of these substances needs to be dramatically reduced. That concerted action needs to be taken now.

Imagine if the Labor Party or The Greens countered the Conservatives suggestion of a forty billion dollar fund by saying it isn’t necessary.

We propose, because we believe we have a duty of care of our people, to regulate the amount of sugar, salt and fat that is inflicted on the community in processed and fast foods. We don’t propose an immediate reduction but rather a gradual withdrawal to reasonable limits, as advised by science, over a five-year period. This will reduce the obesity and the mortality it brings with it. And with it reduce the pressure on our health system. We cannot idly stand by while companies destroy the health of our nation and particularly that of our children who if the current trends continue will have shorter life expectancy than their parents.

The objections of course would be twofold. One would be from the conservatives who would argue that there is too much regulation already and it takes away freedom of choice. What is wrong with regulation if it serves the common good by making people healthier. I struggle to think of a part of my life that isn’t regulated be it crossing the road with traffic lights, building a house, using a credit card or driving a car. There are literally thousands of regulations that I have to obey.

Two of course is the industries that profit from obesity. The companies that promote the consumption of salt, sugar and fat. It’s a capitalistic profit argument versus the health of people. My point though is that if these substances were withdrawn over a period of time consumption wouldn’t necessarily decline because people would adjust to taste. Voluntary withdrawal is not likely to work.

Therefore, it is a political problem that requires a political solution with government willing to show leadership on behalf of the people. Government simply cannot afford to hide from the science as it has with climate change.

The report interestingly doesn’t talk about reduction by regulation in the way I have, seemingly because it sees the wall of capitalistic intervention as being to high although Professor Klim McPherson from Oxford University in the UK makes this observation, “An appropriate rebalancing of the primal needs of humans with food availability is essential, which would entail curtailing many aspects of production and marketing for food industries

Obesity in Australia

Australia is today ranked as one of the fattest nations in the developed world. The prevalence of obesity in Australia has more than doubled in the past 20 years.
Here is a round-up of Australian obesity facts & figures. Of great concern is the health consequence to Indigenous Australians, who are today twice as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to be obese and are ranked the fourth-highest population in the world that is likely to suffer from type-2 diabetes.

Fourteen million Australians are overweight or obese.

More than five million Australians are obese .

If weight gain continues at current levels, by 2025, close to 80% of all Australian adults and a third of all children will be overweight or obese.

Obesity has overtaken smoking as the leading cause of premature death and illness in Australia.

Obesity has become the single biggest threat to public health in Australia.

On the basis of present trends we can predict that by the time they reach the age of 20 our kids will have a shorter life expectancy than earlier generations simply because of obesity.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are 1.9 times as likely as non-indigenous Australians to be obese.

Secondary Complications

More than 900,000 Australians suffer from diabetes.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have the fourth highest rate of Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, or NIDDM) in the world and are 1.9 times as likely as non-indigenous Australians to be obese.

Australians reporting heart, stroke and vascular diseases aged 15 years and over were much more likely to be classified as overweight or obese than those without heart stroke and vascular disease (65% compared with 51%).

Health disorders in children like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, hypertension and sleep apnea can be directly attributed to childhood obesity.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD) account for approximately quarter of the burden of disease in Australia, and just under two-thirds of all deaths. These three diseases often occur together and share risk factors, such as physical inactivity, overweight and obesity and high blood pressure.

My thought for the day

“40% of Australians had visited a McDonald’s outlet in the past 14 days.”

I have never eaten at a McDonald’s franchise


25 comments

  1. Terry2

    It has always stuck with me that on Norman Swan’s Health Report on the ABC they said that anything over 250mg of sodium per 100g serving in savoury foods was considered as unhealthy and detrimental to our health.

    So, whenever we buy savoury biscuits, for instance, we always aim to be below 250mg but it’s not easy. For instance. Jatz has 878mg per 100g.

    Just have a look in your pantry !

  2. John Lord

    Terrifying Terry.

  3. 245179

    It’s a well reported fact, that remote indig folks suffer a greater prevelence of diabetes than the rest of us. Visit any community store, any, the shelves are burdened by coke type products. The volumes are astounding.

  4. Freethinker

    It is alarming that the two big supermarkets promote so much junk food and drinks in their mail catalogs.
    This week both of them promote Coke with big discounts on another bad food.
    That have to be stopped!

  5. Frank Smith

    The major lobby against a sugar tax in Australia comes from Queensland sugar cane farmers.

  6. Wam

    Selamat pagi, Lord, is there msg with that?
    No coke etc in our house but 8.6 gms /100 in the grandies poppers.
    We poison our guests with afternoon nibbles. The bikkies have 1120mgs of Na, 5gm sugar and 50 grams carbohydrates which when mixed with ptyalin during the chew forms sugars.
    A sugar tax should be on all products with added sugar which may have some chance of success in reducing the ‘taste’ factor in our ever fattening population
    ps
    Numbers have you seen the price of sugar/salt processed and subsidised foods compared to fresh and unprocessed foods? There are community gardens on some communities but local councils should all invest in gardens(be good in work for the dole?)

  7. OPPOSE THE MAJOUR PARTIES

    tax salt, sugar and food additives rather than, or in addition to, smokes and beer.

  8. OPPOSE THE MAJOUR PARTIES

    wam. “There are community gardens on some communities but local councils should all invest in gardens(be good in work for the dole”. who would the people on the dole be working for given that community gardens are generally a number of individual plots leased from the council by specific individuals in the community?

  9. Time for Terry

    We should Tax politicians lies .

  10. Freethinker

    Back in 2016, The Greens proposed a 20% tax on sugar, Malcom Turnbull said “Zero Chance” and Chris Bowen said he has “no plans” to pursue it.
    So, no hope in that as long as ALP people do not remove Bowen from his position which it is sported by Shorten.
    That it is the reality.
    After all, what it is more important, the health of the population or the security of having a comfy chair in Parliament?

  11. John Lord

    OPPOSE THE MAJOR PARTIES. I wasn’t proposing a tax but reducing the amount of each in foods over a period of time.

  12. Freethinker

    There is one problem that have to be taken in consideration and it is what will be used as a preservative in foods if sodium is reduced?
    What are the alternatives, chlorides, nitrates, and phosphates?, concentrations of 20% salt will kill bacteria because it dry the food.
    Sugar, also it is used as a preservative which prevent growing yeast as other microorganisms. Fifty percent sugar in jams is a good example.
    There are options and many used as vacuum, freezing, etc but all of them have to delivery a taste that will be acceptable by the consumer.
    Perhaps before introducing taxes or introducing healthy methods, education will be the best step and start on the schools.
    As it is now the consumer demands attractive package, nice shape of the fruits and vegetables and a taste that only fat, sugar and sodium can provide.
    In the shopping center near home there are 3 main food stores, Coles, Woolworth and one that sell locally produce food including fruit and vegetables at a lower price and fresh. The three of them at no more of 50 meters from each other.
    The majority of people go to Coles and Woolworth especially the new comers fro the main land.
    Marketing is very complex and there is no an easy solution.

  13. Jack Russell

    My tuppence worth:

    We changed all that in our house a long time ago. It’s whole foodstuffs, and DIY, all the way.

    It’s easy, very VERY easy, and modern lifestyles are NOT an impediment.

    We can make ANYTHING we want, from scratch, using foolproof recipes. It just takes the right perspective to embrace it … a rejection of mindless consumerism … a little reorganisation … and some research from either books, or online. Not to mention the $avings … and the elimination of the industrial chemicals the “food” factories love so much.

    Our wider family and friends sample things, are amazed, then want the recipes, especially when they see the kids go for it. A lovely ripple effect.

    PS: Nothing “hippy” about it … modern kitchens, and equipment, are perfection.

  14. Trish Corry

    I would like to see the Govt employ nutritionists so people can access healthy eating plans for free. This is pro community, non stigmatising, preventative and educational. Sugar isn’t the only cause of weight gain. A few years back it was trans fats. Women post 35 put on weight due to hormonal changes, contraception is another factor and some people have gland problems. I don’t want to see overweight people even more stigmatised that they are treated like lepers as cigarette smokers are. Taxing sugar is paternalistic in ideology and it only forces treats to be unaffordable for the poorest in society. Those who can afford it can eat sugary foods to their hearts content.

  15. corvus boreus

    In the US, it seems that poor folk eat more fats & sugars per capita than wealthier people.
    http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/87/5/1107.full
    UK studies yielded similar results.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4351901/table/tab3/
    Perhaps taxing junk food out of the habitual reach of the poor, especially when done in conjunction with effective schemes and subsidies to encourage the purchase / consumption of healthier foodstuffs, would be more maternal in nature than paternalistic.

    Ps, amidst the talk of transfat and sugar, the pushing of methyl-xanthine, aka caffeine, an addictive chemical compound, upon children (the default coke drink that comes with a happy meal) is often overlooked.
    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/this-is-how-your-brain-becomes-addicted-to-caffeine-26861037/

  16. cjward2017

    Do you ever check your spelling? “”Would you sit the child down and pore 13 teaspoons of sugar into his mouth?” You might pour but then again it’s not PC to comment on spelling. Best of luck with your meanderings.

  17. corvus boreus

    cjward2017,
    There is an observed phenomenon in self-editing where authors, having preconceived notions of their intended diction and grammar, often subconsciously gloss over errors and thus tend to fail at flawlessly test-proofing their own work.
    This is why professional authors tend to employ proof-readers and editors.
    John Lord, being a writer voluntarily blogging on an ‘oily-rag’ site, likely relies on auto-correct functions.
    Perhaps yew mite overlock sum pour spilling, and ficus on the underling massage?

  18. Trish Corry

    I fink CJ haz had to mutch shugger.

  19. Harry

    I agree with you John: there is a strong case for requiring manufacturers to reduce the salt, saturated fat and sugar content of foods, not with a tax but with regulations backed by penalties for failing to comply.

    I think the same approach is needed to substantially reduce carbon emissions from electricity, transport, agriculture.

  20. corvus boreus

    Harry,
    Under such a system, what would be the regulations on the maximum sugar content for, say, a bag of icing sugar?

  21. totaram

    CB: Point well taken: I think the intent of Harry’s post was to reduce “added” salt, sugar etc. I don’t agree with the saturated fat part of it, as I eat that stuff with great glee, and it is never “added” but usually taken out because of a “false” fear of it, engendered by very poor evidence some of which was cherry-picked long ago. Saturated fat is way better than sugar, from all the evidence I have seen.

  22. corvus boreus

    totaram,
    Saturated fats, according to credible medicos, have dangers in excessive levels of consumption (as is the current trend), but I agree that they are nowhere near as insidiously detrimental to public health as the current fetish for trans-fats and sugars.
    https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/food-and-nutrition/fats-and-cholesterol/saturated-and-trans-fat

    Another point of escalating concern within our processed food-chain is the increasingly routine (and currently undisclosed) addition of various nano-particulates to foodstuffs (and cosmetics), mostly for their textural, colouring and preservative effects.
    http://www.smh.com.au/business/consumer-affairs/study-finds-potentially-toxic-nanoparticles-in-australian-baby-formula-20170622-gwwb2j.htm
    http://www.smh.com.au/business/retail/nanotechnology-found-in-popular-foods-despite-repeated-denials-by-regulator-20150916-gjnqgj.html

  23. wam

    When I was a kid I spooned sugar on everything my mum would let me. On the rest I poured sauce my grandma made from sugar. Any meat we ate was full-fatted and the dripping collected. A slice of bread was thick and covered with dripping or butter and vegemite or silverside sandwiched. Often with jam mum made from sugar. If nobody was watching you could have butter AND jam but you made sure the knife didn’t show traces of both.
    How the f#ck did we get past our 3 score and ten?? Because there were no phones, no TV no lifts, no escalators. Just walking, running, playing or swimming. Were there fat kids, at school?? Yes, both physiologically and socially fat. Did they get a fair go???

    ps What reminds me of my past? All the sweet shit that is poured over everything today (I use half a dozen serviettes removing as much of it as possible) and I use a cart at golf. QED.

  24. Zathras

    Why only sugar? Why not also trans-fats, hi-carb or high-salt foods or any other poor lifestyle consumer choice?

    Perhaps we should close down the fast-food and soft-drink industries entirely just to protect irresponsible consumers from themselves.

    The contents and the amount of each ingedient is already labelled on the products we buy but the consumer seems no longer responsible.

    Unless the taxes raised flow directly back into specific related measures, strategically taxing things is just another way of increasing tax revenue generally. The tax raised from gambling. tobacco and alcohol doesn’t go toward treating the related addictions or advertising against those things – it just swells the coffers overall.

    I recall an attempt to reduce the consumption of alco-pops via taxation that went badly. No matter what the intent it just became a weapon to be used by the opposition and any new consumer taxes will be used that way again.

    Perhaps the Sugar Industry will take a leaf from the Mining Industry when the excess profits tax was proposed and actively campaign against a sugar tax.

    At some stage consumers need to be held responsible for their own decisions and education is the only real tool governments have.

  25. diannaart

    Agree completely with Trish Corry.

    Not just a matter of taxing what the Feds may believe is “bad” – even if they would. Besides why is the consumer always the one to pay for costs implanted by the manufacturers? Of course that mean serious discussion between the government, corporations and actual experts on nutrition – and the Feds can’t even get big corporations to pay taxes.

    Also, not ALL FATS are bad – just placing a tax on all fats (apart from hitting the poorest yet again) is an imposition on the many types of healthy fats the human body actually needs.

    https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/food-and-nutrition/fats-and-cholesterol/replace-unhealthy-fats-with-healthy-fats

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