A recent TV Program has again raised the issue of a sugar tax. All the usual public health suspects were of course in favour. They also bemoaned the influence of industry whilst complaining that they themselves do not get enough funding and lack clout.
It is difficult to know where to start. Public health is generously funded by government and is not particularly accountable.
Let us be crystal clear. It was not the food industry that introduced low fat dietary guidelines in the absence of any evidence in the early 1980’s. It was not big pharma or big sugar or big food. It was public health. Whilst pretending to be small and powerless, the reality is that public health leverages the power of big government.
This has been evidenced by trials of doctors such as Garry Fettke and Tim Noakes where complaints by elements in public health used the power of government regulators to seek to enforce their view of the world. Big food and big sugar cannot seek to silence or penalise doctors.
It is also in the public domain that the Dieticians Association of Australia and Heart Foundation seek support from the food industry and promise increased sales in return. Not surprisingly processed food makers have jumped on board. It was revealed that the WHO has been exposed as accepting $50,000 from Coca-Cola, $150,000 from Nestle and $150,000 from Unilever.
The same WHO wants us to limit saturated fats in our diet to less than 10%. None of the above listed companies make foods with much of a saturated fat content. The other public health push is for us all to eat more grains. This is despite no scientific evidence to support either of these ideas.
Food sales show that the public has listened to poor, meek underfunded public health. The result is the increase in obesity and type two diabetes we see since, guess what, the introduction of low fat dietary guidelines. But somehow this is all the fault of “big sugar” and a tax of 5c on a can of soda will solve the problem.
It won’t. The problem is total refined carbohydrates (including sugar) and grain based foods. Sweet foods can be easily identified as being high in sugar. Low fat (high carb) foods with four and five star ratings which are not sweet less so. And this is made worse by the “health halo” of a tick star or elephant stamp from public health.
A tax on sugar will provide more money to government which through its endorsement of the ideas of public health has been far more the problem than the solution. I urge you to watch this interview with Nina Teicholz about how big government backed bad science and made Americans fat. You can substitute Australians and a host of other peoples.
Rewarding governments with more money is absolutely not the answer. Of course, a taxpayer reliant public health likes the idea of more tax.
In summary, before the introduction by public health and adoption by the public of low fat dietary guidelines in the early 1980’s we did not have major problems with obesity and type two diabetes. However, public health blames everyone and everything and refuses to accept it was wrong. It now wants to (perhaps surprisingly) to bite one of the hands that feeds it. This is likely safe in the knowledge that there are enough other hands and a belief that sugar tax money will somehow flow back to it.
You genuinely could not make this stuff up.
I have wondered how to put a lighter touch to this so with sincerest apologies to Shaggy here is a rework of his 2001 hit “It wasn’t me”
Renegades came in and caught us red-handed
Creeping with industry next door
Picture this we were both exchanging
Favours on the bathroom floor
How could we forget that there is
All this time they were standing there
They never took their eyes off us
How you can grant the public access to your dealings
Trespasser and a witness while you cling to your dollars
You better watch your back before they call in the lawyers
Best for you and the situation not to call the regulators
To be a true player you have to know how to play
If they say a low carb, convince them say a grains
Never admit to a word when evidence disproves what you say
And you tell them baby no way
But they caught us taking money (It wasn’t us)
Saw us promoting sponsors (It wasn’t us)
We even had meetings at their offices (It wasn’t us)
They even caught us on video (It wasn’t us)
They saw the increase in obesity (It wasn’t us)
Followed the low fat diet that we told them (It wasn’t us)
Heard diabetes numbers getting larger (It wasn’t us)
Our ruling days might be over
Gonna tell the public that we’re sorry
For the increased obesity that we caused
We’re going to listen to actual science
Our advice makes no sense at all
We should tell the public that we are sorry
For increased type two diabetes that we caused
We may think that we are clever
But we’re completely lost
Dr Joe Kosterich is a Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, who wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications and is also a regular on radio and television. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases and is an advisor to Reed Medical Conferences.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma and sits on the board of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association.