The DH Responsibility Deal announced in Sept 2011 is sensible. But the recent mooting of a sugar tax to solve the UK’s obesity problems is surely missing the point.
I’m not arguing against price as a valuable positioning or behaviour change tool. Nor am I denying that sugar has increased in percentage terms in many products over the years.
But if sugar is being billed as ‘the new tobacco’ then what on earth do you call High Fructose Corn Syrup? At least with sugar you know what you’re getting into, but HFCS can’t be metabolised by the body and why it ended up in so many products including savoury stuff like soups, pizzas and other savouries is anyone’s guess.
But back to price. A sugar tax will drive more consumers towards cheaper alternatives. Here’s just one example: I was shopping at a supermarket the other day and wanted lime cordial. The well known brand which doesn’t contain any HFCS costs £2 a bottle whereas the own brand (which is full of HFCS) is just 60p.
If the government is serious about changing behaviour and addressing obesity, it has to start with education and information to support better food choices, combined with real pressure on food manufacturers to make more responsible choices.