That Sugar Tax

Written by Cyndi

Cyndi is about educating. Her greatest love is to teach, both in the public arena and within the large corporate food companies, to enable everyone to make better choices so they too can enjoy greater health throughout their lives. Considered one of the world's foremost experts in Nutrition, Cyndi brings over 40 years experience, research and knowledge.

April 19, 2016

The UK last month instigated a sugar tax on soft drinks to be introduced in 2018.  

Australia seems to be following suit.

But will it be the answer to the obesity and diabetes tsunami sweeping Australia and the rest of the world?

20% increase in the cost of soft drinks will probably bring it to the same price as bottled water. For people who drink soft drinks, I doubt it will be much of a deterrence.

Geoff Parker the CEO of the Australian Beverages Council agrees with me but for a different reason. He states that “… people who consume more kilojoules than what they burn throughout the course of the day are going to put on weight regardless of where those kilojoules come from”.

Mr Parker, I’m not sure what rock you’ve been under but there is evidence that the calorie in, calorie out theory is not as simple as you think.  Let’s put it in layman’s terms for you and if you want to put it to the test, I challenge you to try the following experiment with your fellow executive member Colin Felder.

As your belief is so strong about a calorie being a calorie, for the next year why don’t you consume on a daily basis 2500 calories of soft drinks and candy bars, while your colleague should eat 2500 calories a day of meat, fish, chicken, nuts, seeds, eggs, vegetables and fruit, with herbal teas and black coffee.  Balance this out with appropriate exercise, burning those 2500 calories each day.

You will be both eating the same calories but coming from different sources.  If your theory is correct then at the end of the year, all health and weight parameters should remain equal.  

Why is sugar now the vilified food?

That Sugar Film by Damon Gameau clearly shows that sugar is not only in soft drinks but more importantly in foods that the majority of the population believe to be healthy such as sauces, mayo, soups, yogurts, cereals, muesli bars, prepared meals and so on.  These sugars are often hidden and are there to replace fat, and they are usually in a refined state with not a nutrient in sight. (white sugar is 99.4% sucrose and .6% ash – no vitamins and minerals)

I’m not so sure a tax on the sugar in soft drinks will solve the problem and I don’t understand the fist punching that some advocates of the tax are doing. Yes it’s a step, albeit a tiny step in the right direction but will it be big enough to impact our health crisis?

History can tell us a lot especially this very short history of evidence based science and nutritional guidelines.  If we look at the track record they haven’t exactly been good for human health.

The first food to be vilified was salt; the food manufacturers profited from low salt/sodium foods.  We now know the importance of quality salt in the diet for hydration and biochemical processes.  The balance of water and salt in our bodies keeps us alive and functioning.  A less than 2% shift in this balance is tolerated.  2 -5% will produce impaired work capacity, 5-6% shift causes sleepiness, headaches, nausea and tingling limbs, 10-15% change will cause a loss of muscle control, loss of hearing and vision dims.  Anything greater than a >15 % shift in our salt water balance is fatal.  Let’s face it salts important for health.  So to make a blanket statement that salt is bad is not a correct assumption that seems to be a popular meme in the population.

Fat was next – for the past 40 plus years saturated fat, cholesterol and many other fats such as visible fat on cuts of meat have been the bain of human health, low fat was the decree and food manufacturers came through with the goods.  Low fat everything was available, even low fat fat.  We now see that as an oversimplification of combating obesity and heart disease.

Now it’s sugar that is the villain in this whole health crisis.  And now everyone is quitting sugar and even carbohydrates (complex sugars).

Could it be that simple as to just quit sugar?

As the customer demands and science dictates the food manufacturers figure out ways to make shelf stable foods with no salt, no fat and no sugar, because not everyone and every doctor has got the memo that salt and fat are OK!

So now we are looking at ways to stimulate the taste buds for salt, fat and sugar without using these ingredients.  Welcome to the chemical revolution of additives, thickeners and flavours to trick you into believing you are eating food but in fact you are just eating food like substances that have been cleverly designed to make you think you are eating food.  Will this then be the next thing we need to remove from the diet to stop the wave of disease?

The pendulum continues to swing from one extreme to the other, and while I believe that there are significant groups in the population that may need a huge overall with therapeutic nutrition.  I also believe that once again we are looking at a food as the devil in the whole health crisis, when in actual fact we should be looking at a dietary guidelines and the taxing of all shelf stable foods. Then in turn use that tax to reduce the cost and price of healthy fresh quality foods like meats, chicken, fish, fruits, vegetables, eggs, quality dairy, nuts, seeds, herbs, legumes, whole grains, these are the foods that will bring back our health and stop the escalating sickness costs.

Happy Changing Habits


April 2016

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1 Comment

  1. Janette Hopgood

    Hi Cyndi, I love reading your articles. From my own experience, it is nowhere near as simple as a lot of mainstream people believe. I am currently doing a pre-gut health program and I have not had 1 grain of sugar or starchy carbs for 1 month and also ditched intant black coffee at the same time. I have now incorporated sauerkraut, coconut water kefir, daily bone broth with green vegetables, protein etc. I am feeling so much better but I know I have a long way to go to heal my gut health. My weight however, which I am not overly concerned about as I am enjoying the process, has not decreased too much over the month. So just goes to show it does depend on each persons journey and where they need to get to and how long that will take. And whilst weight loss may be the goal for a lot of people – it will work out when the body is healed and ready.


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