Tax on fizzy drinks and curb on takeaway outlets to fight obesity: good idea or not?

(206 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 18-Feb-13 17:20:19

Hello.

Today, doctors are calling on the government to levy an experimental 20% tax on sugary soft drinks and to make local councils limit the number of fast-food outlets outside schools, colleges and leisure centres - to help prevent the UK's obesity crisis becoming "unresolvable".

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (which represents nearly every doctor in the UK) says it wants measures like these brought in to break the cycle of "generation after generation falling victim to obesity-related illnesses and death".

One in four adults in England is obese, and predictions are that obesity rates will soon rise to 60% of men, 50% of women and 25% of children.

The British Retail Consortium has countered by saying it's wrong to "demonise" fast-food outlets and it's down to parents to help children "build a healthy and responsible attitude to eating a balanced diet overall".

What do you think?

Do we all need measures like the doctors are suggesting to help us - and our children - stay at a healthy weight?

Or should we be left alone to eat - and feed our children - whatever we choose?

leniwhite Tue 19-Feb-13 19:56:57

I still find it hard to see how anyone thinks that fast food is in any way cheaper than home cooking. It just isn't!

I see kids everyday eating greasy chicken rubbish and then dropping the waste on the floor and this just didn't happen in the countryside where i grew up because we had no fast food in my village.

Despite parents' best intentions, if kids have these outlets close by, they're likely to go there for lunch or after school. Where I live in London there are fried chicken shops literally next door to each other. We're also lucky enough to have proper greengrocers, butchers, bakers and fishmongers, but they struggle because people can only buy the ingredients rather than crap in a box ready made.

I can buy enough fresh fruit and veg for a week for less than a tenner in the greengrocer, so why would I want to eat grease? However, I'm very aware that many people go for that option because it's there.

It isn't expensive to buy healthy ingredients, doesn't need to be organic, just requires some cooking!

pixi2 Tue 19-Feb-13 20:29:27

Not their best idea for me.

But then, takeaways are a once a month treat and fizzy drinks are only in the house as mixers when we host parties.

Much rather they slap taxes on the motorway burger vans and service station outlets.

Oh, and a tax on advertising fast food too.

ivykaty44 Tue 19-Feb-13 22:29:34

Chip shop meals are already expensive - we can't afford fish and chips for the family in the normal run of the weekly budget!

This would probably be our most regular take away choice - about one every three to four months. I purchase one fish and chips and a small chips - that will feed four people and there is always chips left stuck to the paper grin It cost about £6.

I refuse to buy any soft fizzy drinks though....

ivykaty44 Tue 19-Feb-13 22:32:39

I would be happy for the taxes on fizzy drinks and takeaway food to go solely on trained coaches to take PE lessons in junior school, after school sports activities and secondary school after school sports activities along with more funding available to set up sports clubs in local communities.

That way it will eventually save money on health care as active children usually stay active

plinkyplonks Tue 19-Feb-13 23:02:53

I don't agree with it - unless the money was directly and solely funding our NHS. Otherwise it's just more government taxation with no reward.

It would be much better for the government to encourage people to grow their own fruit and veg. Additionally, fresh fruit and veg is so cheap on the continent - if good food was cheaper and more widely available (my local Tesco has only a small amount of veg but yet has room for loads of cake, crisps and sugary crap?!) people would be more inclined to eat it.

stickylittlefingers Tue 19-Feb-13 23:22:17

I suspect it's more about changing lifestyles: making dinner is about washing and chopping veg for example, not taking a box out the freezer and putting it into a microwave. But if you don't sit to eat dinner as a family because of work commitments, for example, is it too inconvenient to have that sort of a family meal? What is stopping people eating healthily? It's not cost for everyone, so is it lack of time or skills or what is it?

There was a survey recently saying that 1 in 10 adults have done no physical exercise for a decade and 40% of British adults have not broken into a run at any point in the last year. So why not? Lack of time? Lack of facilities (though going for a run doesn't require much by way of facilities...)?

The obesity epidemic is about a lot more than the cost of fizzy drinks.

midastouch Tue 19-Feb-13 23:40:01

Doesn't bother me I rarely have fizzy drinks, but people will do what they want with they're money, its expensive as it is so i cant imagine an increase in tax on it stopping those who drink it

Greensleeves Wed 20-Feb-13 02:26:00

I know I probably sound like an idiot (and haven't read the whole thread yet), but one concern that keeps niggling me about this is that crappy fast food outlets that are open late at night seem to be the only source of cheap hot food for some people who are homeless or have disordered lives or certain mental health problems. Sometimes a packet of hot chips is the only cheap way someone is going to get something warm inside them.

Added to my general unease about micro-controlling legislation, that makes it a no from me.

Monty27 Wed 20-Feb-13 02:42:11

Green I agree and it's all some people can afford, they are cheaper than school dinners for example, however I can't stand the nannying bullying state. I think it should be dealt with differently: ban the offensive sugar, salts additives etc, do not allow them anywhere near; and stop the conglomerate bastard shops ripping us off and selling us rubbish GRRRRR.

I went to Nando's once co-erced by two teen dcs's I couldn't believe the utter rubbish they produced labelled as food. And it wasn't that cheap either, it made macdonalds look good imho.

It's that lot that need to be banned Grrrr.

best off to bed as ranting again and not very articulately to boot lol

Snog Wed 20-Feb-13 06:14:31

I ate ready meals until I was 35 - now I cook from scratch. The reason for cooking ready meals was simply lack of cooking skills. I didn't learn have cooking lessons at school (academic girls school in the 1980s where cooking was viewed as not something women should be doing anymore!) and my parents didn't teach me at home. I didn't find following a recipe at all easy despite someone saying up thread that this is "all you need to do".
So I would certainly advocate equipping children with cooking skills in school.

Instead of doing that, they should make fresh produce a lot cheaper!
I love making meals from scarch but in all honesty it is expensive. Once you have bought the meat, the vege & the spices etc, one homemade meal can cost over £10, great if your well of, but not if you are short of money.

Not only that but making things expensive will not stop people buying it!-the same with booze, drugs & cigarattes!

Why is it all about money and never about responsibility? The government took away all the playing fields and sport in schools and reduced PE to nothing in schools (in my sons primary school they do dance and it is ridiculous) so now they have to 'tax' everything to put right a problem they introduced by removing exercise? Bloody stupid if you ask me.

In my opinion - which is quite limited in schools where kids are forced to do 3/4 lots of sports of a week (ok that may be independent schools) you dont get many overweight kids - so maybe if the government brought back school sport they wouldn't have to do this (and I guess it will cost an awful lot of money to bring in this legislation and cost a lot of jobs to boot!)

I agree Alien, ie fields & more sport!
They are looking at it all wrong imo!
Healthy foods need to be made cheaper and exercise needs to be increased & also made more fun.
Harassing children over treats & taxing them will just make those treats more attractive and make parents skint to boot!

curryeater Wed 20-Feb-13 09:55:11

Monty27, why do you think Nandos is so terrible? I mean no one should be eating chips every day, but I think it is a completely different echelon from MacD's - the chicken is a proper cut, so you know what part it is, and it comes with vegetables or salads. Yes, if you eat chicken + chips + dressed salad you will have consumed a lot of calories, but as a treat I would far rather eat that, or give that to my kids, than burgers in white buns (though I know I can't eat the chips so wouldn't have them, and we all drink tap water, which is freely available)

Mirage Wed 20-Feb-13 12:18:20

I only drink lemonade or such if we are out and I'm the designated driver,but I think it is a bad idea.If we start banning something because someone thinks it isn't healthy,where does it end?

I say ban lycra instead.It is my firm belief that since the introduction of lycra and cheap clothes in the late 80's / 90's people have got fatter.If you are wearing clothes that expand with you,it is far easier not to notice that you are getting porkier.And cheap clothes mean it is easy to go out and buy the next size up.In the 70's clothing was far more expensive and if your clothes got too tight,you'd lay off the cake until they weren't.

What happens if their is a medical need for it?

I have a genetic condition and from that chronic fatigue, I drink lots of energy drinks because without them I can't function (like literally struggle to do anything). I'm also on disabled benefits so am utterly skint and wouldn't be able to afford them if they became more expensive. confused

There* not their. hmm

RedToothBrush Wed 20-Feb-13 13:58:16

You're screwed Schro. Thats what happens.

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 15:06:30

Can you not just mix sugar with water yourself? food colouring is cheap...

It's the caffeine, not the sugar, everything I drink is sugar free.

Have started making my own in the Sodastream as they have brought out a red bull type syrup for it but I am wondering how much the price will go up as it makes 12 litres. confused

fuzzpig Wed 20-Feb-13 16:12:54

Hey schro, I have recently been advised to drink lucozade sport type drinks in the morning because I have POTS. I've actually really gone off them now that I'm supposed to drink them daily, but I wonder if they will be covered by a tax.

Fuzz At my tilt table test I very narrowly missed a POTS diagnosis. My BP just didn't lower quite enough on that time but I have been hospitalised for it umpteen times. hmm

This is another reason I need the caffeine drinks!

Sodastream do a Lucozade/powerade type drink as well, hopefully they wont put the tax up on them? I drink so much of the stuff, the sodastream saves a fortune in the long run, maybe you could try that?

Monty27 Wed 20-Feb-13 18:50:25

Curryeater there was very little chicken on my chicken grin

I don't actually eat McD's I was just using it as a comparison.

My teen dc's love Nando's confused

snoworneahva Thu 21-Feb-13 13:21:06

Alien your observations on the local independent school having fewer obese kids may have more to do with their wealth and the education of their parents than the playing fields available at their school, middle class kids at state schools are also less likely to be obese.
There is a definite link between obesity and poverty. I come from a relatively wealthy area, you get used to they way people look and I was shocked on visiting a relatively poorer town close by, I couldn't help but notice how many people were obese and immobile, lots carrying walking sticks and on mobility scooters with grey skin.
Crap food is cheap, it's easy to eat and requires no prep...I believe that a multi-pronged approach is needed - crap food needs to be taxed and unprocessed food needs to be subsidized. mind you the recent Change4life campaign by the Gov was a pile of crap too - the money wasted on that scheme was shameful, loads of companies made a lot of money out of achieving very little. Most of what we received was plastic marketing junk and went in the bin - it wasn't helpful at all.

fuzzpig Thu 21-Feb-13 13:37:31

I thought change4life was quite good although I was quite enthusiastic about improving things to start with. Like any scheme you need people to want to be helped or it will fall on deaf ears.

Schro - might be worth seeking advice again about the symptoms if you were close to a POTS diagnosis. I was advised to increase salt and fluid intake (to increase blood volume) but I was also told to avoid caffeine as much as possible due to its affect on the heart.

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