Sugar tax is nudge in the right direction

Sugar tax
Sugar tax

The idea of a 'fat tax' has reared its head again thanks to criticism of the government for hiding a report that calls for a tax on sugary foods.

The report by Public Health England called for a sugar tax and an end to marketing of unhealthy foods to children, signalling the end for the Coco Pops monkey.

Unfortunately, MPs had already rejected a sugar tax and have been accused of keeping the report hidden because it did not tally with their findings.

These reports keeping coming, and the MPs keep objecting to them, and it seems that if we want to get a hold on the obesity epidemic that has gripped the nation, we need to hit the source of the unhealthy food.

The government has poured millions into five-a-day advertising campaigns and TV adverts telling us to get off the sofa in the 'change 4 life' programme; we all know what we should be doing but we're still choosing the unhealthy options the majority of the time.

What we need now is a tax on poor food choices, a tax that makes it more expensive to buy the unhealthy option and therefore pushes us to make a better choice. It's not a good situation when a pack of four chocolate bars can be bought for £1 but four oranges cannot.

Nudge mentality

This is called 'nudge' mentality, where the powers that be gently manoeuvre us to make the right choices. Nudge is proven to work and we have already seen it in action with the auto-enrolment of pensions. More people are saving because the government automatically puts them into their workplace pension.

And before you cry 'nanny state', nudge doesn't mean compulsion – for instance you can opt out of auto-enrolment the same way you can continue to opt for sugary snacks.

Those that do bemoan the nanny state and things like the sugar tax like to point out that it is an individual's choice whether they want to drink fizzy drinks over water, and yes it is but (and it's a big but) we live in a world where the state has to pick up the tab for the poor choices of others.

Whether it's in healthcare bills or in incapacity benefits because someone is too large to work, the state pays and so the state should have the right to intervene.

If you want to live an unhealthy life, then don't expect the taxpayer to pay for it.

Denmark Introduces World's First Fatty Food Tax
Denmark Introduces World's First Fatty Food Tax