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Calorie Taxation

(45 Posts)
HollyDaze Thu 26-Jun-14 08:18:03

This morning, on the BBC News, it was reported that a sugar tax was still being considered in the fight against rising obesity levels in the UK and that other measures, such as advising parents to place a jug of water on the dinner table rather than sugary drinks, would form part of the education process. It would, however appear that taxation is the way Government prefer to go.

A gentleman by the name of Terry Jones, from the Food & Drinks Federation, was on the programme to give advice on calorie reduction. He stated that they (FDF) are working with manufacturers to reduce the overall calories in food during the production process as he believes 'this is the way to help people control their calorie intake'.

He stated that 'France has had a rate of tax on sugary drinks since 2012 and consumption fell by 2% that year; the following year it went up by 1/2% and by the start of 2014 it went up by 6%'.

Two questions: do you think that Mr Jones' belief is the better way to go (the removal of calories during the production process) rather than tax (which is probably just a revenue earner anyway - governments know people won't give things up totally);


the thing that surprised me that Mr Jones had been elected to appear to give his views on controlling calorie intake - he had no discernible jawline (his chin seemed to run straight into his collar) and a stomach that a Buddah statue would have been proud of. If people are going to give advice about calorie control, shouldn't those messages come from someone who isn't also having a problem limiting their calorie intake? Doesn't that smack of hypocrisy?

(image of Mr Jones)

Anne58 Thu 26-Jun-14 12:16:58

Perhaps he's got really teeny weeny skinny legs, so that taken overall he's not over weight?

Ana Thu 26-Jun-14 12:21:15

Ah, yes, but the fat round the middle is the most dangerous to health!

Eloethan Thu 26-Jun-14 12:35:16

Holly It does seem a bit silly for the Food and Drinks Federation to put up for interview someone who is recommending calorie counting as opposed to calorie removal at source when, from your description, he is unable to follow his own recommendation.

Apparently, the most dangerous shape to have so far as heart attacks and stroke are concerned is one where weight is unevenly distributed and concentrated in the middle of the body - and, from what you say, this chap fits the bill.

If the French example is anything to go by, it would appear that the effect of higher taxation on certain foods does not change eating behaviour in the long term. Of course, the government is reluctant to alienate the food industry but it seems to me that the best way of stopping people eating unhealthy food is to introduce legislation to prevent manufacturers from producing it.

jinglbellsfrocks Thu 26-Jun-14 12:44:25


I heard them discussing this on the Today programme. It made me cross that they did n't mention the eateries chains who dole out endless free sugary drinks (as per the thread yesterday)

I do think the advice to put water on the dinner table rather than juices or squashes is good. We have always had water. [halo]hmm

Not more taxes on the less well off though, and, let's face it, they are probably the ones it would hit.

MiniMouse Thu 26-Jun-14 13:26:26

Why does today's mantra always seem to be, "If in doubt, tax them or fine them"? - ie the general public.

Why does processed food and drink contain so much sugar and salt? Surely the manufacturers can produce them with much lower amounts. Is it cheaper to bulk the products out with sugar and that's why they do it?

Also, with apologies for being on my high horse here, isn't there an argument for saying that people should use some discipline/self-discipline and just cut down on fizzy drinks etc without legislation and taxes being used as a stick - yet again!

Ana Thu 26-Jun-14 13:30:12

Manufacturers load their products with sugar, fat and salt as most people like the taste so they sell more. Low-fat digestive biscuits certainly don't taste as good! sad

MiniMouse Thu 26-Jun-14 14:04:12

. . . . . but why SO much?! I agree about low-fat, especially cheese!

Eloethan Thu 26-Jun-14 14:19:49

MiniMouse A large proportion of the processed foods that people eat contain ingredients that are bad for them but often high-powered but misleading marketing campaigns are used to sell them. Many foods that have been marketed as being "healthy" have been found to be anything but. It is difficult for people to scrutinise all the ingredients and to work out just how much a particular ingredient contributes to the total daily recommended allowance.

If we expect families to avoid the regular consumption of processed foods, then we must educate young people properly about the danger they pose to current and future health, and teach them how to cook simple meals using reasonably priced fresh ingredients (not, as I recall my son having to do for "cookery", assembling a pizza from a shop bought dough base, olive oil, tomato paste and mozzarella cheese).

jinglbellsfrocks Thu 26-Jun-14 14:31:42

I would willingly eat a whole packet of low fat digestive biscuits now. sad

Flippin' diet. hmm

I like Waitrose low fat cheddar.

Mamie Thu 26-Jun-14 14:52:46

I can't help thinking though that the teaching of cooking should start in the home. I am sure the reason our son and daughter enjoy cooking for their families is because we have always done that and they grew up with it, rather than anything they did or didn't learn at school. As far as I know, no cooking is taught in French schools, but people seem to cook much more here.
Surely this is something learnt by example and habit. If you cook food from scratch then it isn't full of processed rubbish and empty calories. I can't believe all the processed stuff in UK supermarkets that is available now.

suebailey1 Thu 26-Jun-14 15:20:00

Sigh!! when will someone in government realise that rising obesity is a multi faceted problem that cannot be cured by one solution. It must also take into account town planning which allows multiple fast food restaurants in every town so bad food is never far away and is also relatively cheap.

I agree though the speaker did look as though he was fighting his own Battle of the Bulge

Aka Thu 26-Jun-14 15:51:14

And losing the fight sue wink

Sadly we've been preaching healthy eating for 30 years now and it's made no difference, in fact things have got worse.

I think the only thing that might work would be a 'fat tax' - 1p on basic rate of income tax for every kilo you are overweight.

Eloethan Thu 26-Jun-14 16:06:59

It probably is something that is learned in the home by example, but many parents today don't cook with fresh ingredients so it has to be left to the school to teach at least the basics of cookery.

We did occasionally have "processed" food but in the 50's there were nowhere near as many products as you can buy today. I remember when the Vesta meals came out (chop suey, curry, etc.) which were like glorified Pot Noodle - water added to dried ingredients and simmered - we thought it very exotic and the height of sophistication!

rosequartz Thu 26-Jun-14 16:29:59

I was always taught not to drink with meals as was DH. I now break that rule with wine sometimes, which has so many empty calories.

However, DD1 and SIL always have a jug of water on the lunch and dinner table, and DD1 would be appalled at the thought of children drinking low calorie drinks with aspartame as a sweetener.

rosequartz Thu 26-Jun-14 16:32:38

Oh, Aka, that would spur me on!

FlicketyB Thu 26-Jun-14 17:08:54

Possibly it is because the government is always PREACHING to us about healthy food, that so many people ignore them

Food has been medicalised and nutritionalised and turned in to 'bad' and 'good' food until most people are paranoid about every mouthful they eat and then get fed up and eat what they like.

Why doesn't someone just sing the pleasures of fresh food, how nice a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is. The pleasure of the variety in breads and meats and all those wonderful foods we have access to. The infinite variety of different tastes and textures.

We all know children respond better to praise than criticism. Why doesn't this and every government learn some lessons from child rearing?

I love food, and I eat well but every time we get 'experts' pontificating like this I want to go out and stuff my face with sweet foods, which I actually do not like, just annoy them.

rosequartz Thu 26-Jun-14 17:33:50

Quite, FlicketyB.

Please don't tell the government or that Terry whatsizname that DGD2 (age 2) and I made cakes together yesterday. With icing on. blush
I suppose we should have made a healthy tomato sauce and wholewheat pasta - she likes that as well.

jinglbellsfrocks Thu 26-Jun-14 17:40:25

How would they phrase that FlicketyB?

rosequartz Thu 26-Jun-14 17:43:57

It's called proper grownup joined up thinking which politicians seem to find difficult.

gangy5 Thu 26-Jun-14 17:55:58

I agree that the imposition of a tax on certain unhealthy foods would not be the solution. Most likely it would work at first but then people would revert to old habits and cancel out any noticeable difference.

Cooking is an important life skill and should be taught at school. There was much trumpeting a couple of years back about cookery being made compulsory in school. O yes this has happened - I believe for 11-14 year olds. BUT my grandchildren of that age get precisely 6 lessons per year!!
I think that could be termed as a token gesture
I agree with all of Eloethan's comments and especially the suggestion that the bad foods in question should be regulated, as to their content, with government legislation. It would stop the government being accused of nannying.
It would be in my view quite a simple thing to do - especially where ready meals are concerned. For instance - the amount of permitted salt could be .05% of the whole in weight

Nelliemoser Thu 26-Jun-14 18:30:31

Mamie I fully agree that cooking should be "taught" in the home but in families where parents don't have a clue or CBA themselves their children are never going to learn.

Just teach basic cooking skills, don't call it anything fancy just Cookery! Save terms like food technology for those doing the subject at exam level.
Teach all children how to make easy basic meals, prepare and cook meats and vegetables, make a good soup and a few other simple proper meals learn basic cooking before meal planning. How we did it at school.

(I was at risk of sounding like Michael Gove for a minute there.) shock

Mamie Thu 26-Jun-14 18:40:03

I don't think I learnt anything very useful in cookery at school actually.
I wasn't saying that it shouldn't be taught though, I used to love making bread with my primary school classes and I have never much liked the DT curriculum. I am glad that proper cooking is coming back into the curriculum now. All I am saying is that I think it quite unlikely that children will cook if they grow up in a home where convenience food rules.
I am quite shocked by how many ready meals people seem to buy and eat now in the UK.

MiniMouse Thu 26-Jun-14 18:54:43

Eloethan I agree with you about the misleading 'healthy' foods. There don't seem to be any morals when it comes to marketing! Though if you look at the ingredients list and sugar is first in line, then that means that it's the highest amount of any ingredient, so that's a pretty fair indication that it's probably too much. Having said that, people shouldn't really be expected to examine every product with a magnifying glass to check the quantity of each ingredient.

FlicketyB Thu 26-Jun-14 19:41:45

I learned to cook because I love eating. I was given the 'She' 15 Minute Cook book by an aunt and worked my way through all the recipes. I then got a good basic cookbook and worked from there.

As they say, cooking isn't rocket science. You read, you do, you get it wrong, you analyse why and do it better next time. Simples!

There are no such things as healthy/unhealthy, good/bad foods. There is only food. Whether overall the total of all the food you eat is good for your health or bad is an entirely personal choice.

Cakes, biscuits, sweets, fizzy drinks, alcohol, McDonalds, fish and chips can all form part of a healthy diet.