Will the Sugar Tax be a genuine blow against obesity... or just lip service?
So it’s now official that a Sugar Tax is on the way.
For a long time now the problem of obesity in Ireland has been spiralling out of control and it’s pretty obvious for all to see that action needs to be taken.
The Government has finally decided to tackle the problem. The question is, are they going about it on the right way?
In my opinion, the answer is an emphatic No.
We’ve already seen two major measures brought in; one was to put calories on menus and the other was the introduction of a Sugar Tax.
Firstly I’m not sure they are fully understanding the problem. I don’t think calories on menus are that relevant.
If people are eating out it’s usually on a rare occasion, they want to enjoy themselves and they’re probably not going to worry too much about the calorie count for that evening.
Day-to-day eating and bad food habits are where the problems lie.
As for the Sugar Tax, I just don’t buy into it at all. Sugar is an addiction. As a substance it’s nine times more addictive than Cocaine.
So if people are hooked on sugar they are going to pay for it, regardless of price. Increases in tax hasn’t stopped people from smoking or drinking alcohol.
I have long argued the case for educating people about food, and not imposing a new tax. I read an article recently stating that education hasn’t worked which is why it’s time to try a Sugar Tax.
I don’t agree with that.
No real attempt has been made at education. I work in a school with Transition Year students and I have to say their knowledge of nutrition is very low.
In many cases the knowledge of the teachers is not much better. That’s not a criticism of teachers, they’re not qualified in Nutrition and Fitness. What I have found is that the students are very keen to learn, they’re just not being given the information.
So here’s what I’d like to see happen. I feel the current PE programme in Ireland is beyond a joke. It has been for years. It’s not taken seriously.
If we’re actually serious about tackling this obesity epidemic we need to educate people from a young age. The current programme needs to be torn up and discarded.
I’d love to see a schools programme introduced which involves combining Physical Education with Nutrition. It could be rebranded as Healthy Living and cover all aspects.
Give it the same respect as every other subject, which means the same amount of time and effort. Make it a mandatory subject and make it an exam subject. Only when that happens will we start to see progress.
If that means getting Nutrition and Fitness experts in to oversee the programmes then so be it.
As for the government, if they are set on a Sugar Tax, then let’s have the Revenue generated pumped back into a proper Education programme around Nutrition and Fitness.
There’s one other issue I feel is being overlooked here: Personal Responsibility. When did we become a Nanny State? Why do we need the Government to put calories on menus and tell us they have to tax sugar for our own good?
When are we going to start taking responsibility for ourselves? If you wait for other people to come and tell you exactly what to do, and what not to do, you’ll be waiting forever.
Take responsibility yourself, learn how to read food labels. Make a decision to be in control of your own health.
Ultimately a Sugar Tax or any other measures are irrelevant unless you decide to accept responsibility for yourself and what you eat. It’s time to take back control.