Thursday 3rd September 2015 Channel 4 9pm
We know there’s an ‘epidemic ’of diabetes and obesity. We know that this is caused by over-eating or over-drinking of sugar, foods that contain sugar, or foods that behave just like sugar as soon as they’ve been eaten.
And the effects are devastating. 26,000 primary school age children each year are admitted to hospital to have decayed teeth pulled out – costing the NHS £30m. Or type 2 diabetes, costing £9billion per year, with younger and younger children becoming diabetic.
The food industry however doesn’t agree and hooks children in early to their deadly products through eye-level, child-level placing of sweets, confectionery and soft drinks; and by advertising soft drinks and sugary foods during family programmes such as X-factor, often using images of cool, sporty-looking people to advertise the products.
Jamie Oliver’s got pretty angry about this and is fired up and ready for a fight. And really there’s no-one better. Once he’s got his head round it he’s great at putting his case.
And what does eating less sugar mean?
Jamie’s Sugar Rush showed us that there are 14 teaspoons of sugar in a fairly healthy-looking breakfast alone, that’s without lunch and dinner, when government recommendations are for no more than 7 teaspoons of sugar a day, 6 for a child.
We saw people with amputations that resulted from diabetes caused by sugar. Some of these people had been shocked to find they were diabetic, even more shocked to be having feet or legs amputated.
So he’s proposing a tax on sugary soft drinks. He took us to Mexico where Coca Cola hit hard with the advertising, targeting specific villages, and babies are given coke in their feeding bottles.
Here, a sugar tax has resulted in people drinking less of the stuff, and the revenue raised is used to provide drinking fountains in schools and school milk.
Given that the soft drinks industry in the UK was worth £15.7 billion in 2014, and 14.8 million litres of soft drinks were consumed, a tax of even 10 pence a litre should raise plenty of money for health education and undoing some of the effects of sugar.
Jamie’s programme, with its shocking images and a real plan to do something about what’s happening, is a definite step in the right direction.
Sally Hobbs 2015