Sugar Tax - good or bad?

I'm sure a lot of you would have seen this in the media yesterday - taxing sugary drinks, driven by chef Jamie Oliver.



Is it a good or bad idea? both...

It's good because it's raising awareness about sugar and the dangers that come with it. But it's not just the drinks. You can walk into a supermarket and pick up quite a lot of chocolate for just 2 or 3 pounds - that's cheap!

The problem with sugar is that its 'addictive'. I remember watching a YouTube video from Steve Cook (bodybuilder, sponsored athlete, competitor) and while prepping for one of his shows, he said he stays away from sugar because once he has a little, he craves more. Those are words from someone with one of the best physiques in the business!

End of the day, sugar is energy, but it's fast releasing energy. If children are going to be active for the day (parties, sports day etc) then having sugar isn't too bad as they will burn off the energy. However, children are becoming lazier and lazier in the modern day - thanks to the gaming systems, online gameplay, smartphones etc. Back in the day (although not that long ago) children were outside a lot more, over the park playing sports, and actually using energy.

Sugar doesn't fill you up, you may feel a little 'sick' if you eat too much too quickly, but it doesn't fill you up. So once you feel hungry again, you eat more sugary foods and drink more sugary drinks - a vicious cycle.

Just adding more tax to sugary drinks is not the solution for obesity in children. Parents NEED to be educated themselves about keeping their children at a healthy weight, and then they need to pass on that education to their children. People need to understand the 'side effects' of being overweight/obese. Because there are so many overweight/obese people in the this country (UK, and around the world) it's almost like 'the norm', so overweight children and adults don't think there's too much of a problem.

Going back a fair number of years, if you were overweight/obese, you would stand out (I remember my parents telling me that, when they were at school). But now that's not really the case. You can pile as much tax on sugary drinks as the government wants, BUT without educating people - about obesity, how to be healthy, how to cook healthy meals on a budget etc etc, then the problem will not go away. It's quite clear that individuals will not change on their own - they won't learn how to cook, they won't research how to live a healthy life, how to lose weight, how to keep the weight off etc etc, so they need help. This extra tax money can be used for 'the good', but one of the last ideas the government had, was to team up with Weight Watchers - kind of says it all. (that was a diabolical decision considering the long term fat loss results that that company has - it's awful!)

I respect Jamie Oliver for constantly trying to raise awareness, but end of the day he is not a trainer, not a nutritionist, and unless parents take responsibility for their children, nothing will change. How a parent can watch their children get fatter and fatter is beyond me, I would be mortified and feel terrible. Children eat most of their food at home, so I don't buy the excuse of "they eat healthy at home but eat garbage when they go out" - NO! If you provide healthy meals at home, even if they eat some bad foods out of the home, they will not become obese!

Changes need to be made, but the most important thing is to educate the parents and the children. IF the money made from the extra tax is actually used towards positive things such as education for parents and youngsters, then it could work. BUT if the money gets used to simply give people gastric bands, then no, that's not the going to work. That's masking a problem, that's not fixing the root cause. I guess time will tell!

Lee Gregory Fitness 

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