And, as I and others have said above, sugar is a nutrient. Diet and its relationship with health is so complex.
You're arguing that because we can digest sugars they can't be bad for you. I don't think the data out there in the literature support that logic. We certainly didn't evolve to eat much sugar, not that evolutionary arguments are entirely trustworthy either.
The point is, just about every scientist who specializes in nutrition says that same thing, that foods with super high levels of sugar are not healthy sources of calories and strongly associated with a number of diseases.
And the point about artificial sweeteners is valid too - the thinking now is that artificial sweeteners condition people to want sweeter foods so while they may not get calories from the drink with artificial sweeteners they compensate by increasing the sugar content of the rest of their diet.
Nobody is suggesting reducing the consumption of high sugar drinks will solve all our diet problems - but they are a real outlier when it comes to food. 330 mL of liquid with 8 teaspoons of sugar in it is pretty extreme, that's like a latte with 6 teaspoons of sugar!
Worry about poverty first, and any problems which remain will by definition not be driven by poverty.
You are assuming that obesity is a health problem only in the poor. While it is biased towards the poor it is pretty widely spread across all income groups.
I have no problem with targeting poverty as a problem by, you know, throwing money at it.
But I have a real problem with you repeating arguments that were proven false with respect to tobacco. The harm to rich and poor from tobacco was significantly reduced by increasing the price. The same is highly likely (but certainly) true for the harm from high sugar foods.
I don’t have to be one to know genetic factors don’t work like that
Sorry but you are wrong. Genetics does work like that. You have a base frequency of a specific genotype, in this case tendency towards obesity.
You then change environmental conditions, in this case availability of calories. What happens then is the frequency of obesity goes up AND those people who are obese have a common genetic makeup.
The best analogy I heard was this - think of a swimming pool with a shallow and deep end. Your genotype defines where in the pool you stand. Now add another metre of water and people who were standing before are drowning now.
then taxing sugar is going to hit the people with the least money hardest
Guess what - that is exactly the same argument used against raising taxes on cigarettes. more poor people smoke therefore taxing smokes is targeting the poor unfairly.
If you tax the companies they respond by raising the price and you create a more complex tax system with more loopholes.
The whole point is to make the choice for people simple buy expensive sugary products or cheaper non-sugary products.
That approach has been shown to work for tobacco.
I'd laugh at The New Zealand Initiative if they didn't have so much political power. I'd find them funnier if my alma mater (University of Auckland) had not seen fit to endorse them - a WTF moment if there ever was one.
I can imagine them meeting forty years ago and concluding taxing cigarettes and banning smoking in public places would have no benefit to society.
The evidence is clear (mostly from cigarette taxation), increasing the price of a product via taxation or duty is a tremendously powerful tool for changing consumer behaviour.
For me then, there are two remaining questions.
Is there a health problem associated with high sugar foods?
All the data in the literature show a very high correlation between such foods and a number of serious health problems. I'm sure someone can find industry-funded "research" showing no such association, but I believe those studies as much as I believe the studies from the tobacco companies "proving" tobacco is harmless.
The second question is:
Should our representatives in government act to improve the health of the population and thus reduce healthcare costs?
That of course is an ideological question. For me the answer WTF else should they be doing?????? But then I'm not paid by soft drink companies to have another opinion and nor is my opinion for sale like my alma mater's.
If a substance is harmful, why not ban it rather than taxing it? Sugary drinks have zero nutritional benefit and many proven harms.
Because prohibition really does not work.
The Home Truths series didn’t address the following, which I think are crucial elements in the existence of property bubbles:
You also forgot the effect of weekly stories in that same newspaper highlighting the enormous amounts of wealth that could be generated by investing in the Auckland housing market.
Not criticizing that wealth gain but promoting it with all the fervor of a real estate agent whose just fallen in love with the latest model Porsche.
the seeds of this were sewn
This enraged me unreasonably.
we’re planning on spending it all
I'd start to worry that they plan on cashing in early when they start gifting you Mt Everest expedition and base jumping holidays.
Which is part of the problem but not the whole problem because the data strongly suggest a lot of money is coming into NZ from overseas as well.
Hence as so many have already pointed out multiple solutions are needed.
But as Ben has rightly noted voting for policies that reduce the value of your home seems silly. And all of those policies WILL reduce the paper value of our homes.
It's almost like we need a government that makes policy that is good for us, not merely popular.