Posts by Moz

  • Speaker: Talking past each other:…, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    far more of a loss of their freedom than any tax might ever be.

    I think it's interesting that when we talk about restricting the ability of alcohol and tobacco dealers to push their wares there's some discomfort but broad acceptance that we do need both regulations and taxes. Even though the users enjoy the products and find the restrictions annoying. But when it's Coke{tm} rather than coke, some people get all "free to sell a legal product" about it. Yeah, I'm sure Coke{tm} has no interest in making their product more widely available or more addictive, and the health of their users is of paramount concern.

    Speaking of perfectly lawful chemicals that make people fat, I'm expecting is that the new BPA substitutes will prove to be problematic and probably in the same way. So we're going to play the synthetic-cannibis whack-a-mole game with a whole different class of harmful synthetic chemicals. At least there's little chance to argue that people have to eat those one, although manufacturers are still crying "too hard to avoid".

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 678 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Are we seeing the end of MSM,…, in reply to David Hood,

    the subeditor Yoda is.

    I want that on a t shirt.

    But "my", in homage to the meme I can't remember in detail, the "X is my Y" one.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 678 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Talking past each other:…,

    Turns out I have a libertarian available to expound on this issue. He's in the US so there's some bias. But a few key points:

    If someone has enough money to buy food and be fat, they can just as well eat less of that food, have more money and probably still be healthier for being lighter.

    it boils down to calories burned versus calories in.

    Trying to attack all the issues at once takes power away from those folks

    Sure it sucks that healthy food isn't available, but that's a different problem.

    What I expect is that clear information be provided and the waters not muddied with targeted propaganda. "Food desert" is an issue of health, to be sure, but it is unrelated to the fact that he is obese because he consumes too many calories.

    Specifically on the sugar tax (and to be clear, he is definitely being sarcastic here):

    Sure, taking away ignorant people's freedoms to protect them is usually the correct answer. Especially if it makes the government money in the process.

    And he spontaneously observed that him and me were indeed talking past each other on this issue.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 678 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Talking past each other:…, in reply to Russell Brown,

    some toddler snacks are as much as 60% sugar.

    I said above, thinking it was a bit over the top and unlikely to be necessary: " require labelling of the rest as per cigarette packets, just so there's no confusion. 20% of front of wrapper to consist of text UNHEALTHY SNACK ".

    Who's with me?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 678 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Talking past each other:…, in reply to Russell Brown,

    are there ways to directly influence manufacturers? Or apply a tax in a way that doesn’t take money out of people’s pockets?

    I think "all of the above". In theory we already compensate poor people for the GST, we have a whole heap of compensation and distortion within the ideal of a "simple and fair tax system", it's not as if adding one more is going to destroy the purity of the ideal. As a paid-up member of the green-left inner city elite{tm} I obviously prefer that we simply give people enough money that no-one lives in poverty except that tiny fraction who choose to (Christians, for example). I suspect you don't count that as "state acting directly". So:

    Or are there environments where it’s acceptable for the state to act directly?

    Yep. I think there's a case for a limit on sugar in specific things. We limit caffeine, the "on principle" argument has been lost. So restrict soft drinks to, say, the daily added sugar allowance for a 30kg child, per 300ml or container (not per "serving", that mythical magic number so beloved of food industry lawyers). Do the same for other specific problem foods, like breakfast cereal and "healthy snacks" (and, I think, require labelling of the rest as per cigarette packets, just so there's no confusion. "20% of front of wrapper to contain text "unhealthy snack" in red on white... make it 20% of area per serving if you really want to piss people off - some of those "snack bars" contain 2.8 servings. Ahem).

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 678 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Talking past each other:…, in reply to Lilith __,

    The dose makes the poison ... As it says in the article I’ve linked .

    It sort of does, yes. It's buried well down in the article, though. I am quite sick of misleading headlines and ledes on science articles.

    A sugar tax would be tricky, exactly because it's both common and necessary. It would be even more tricky to avoid nasty side-effects from trying to target the "bad" sugars. Honey, for example, can be used as a sweetener to excess, but it's commonly sold as almost pure sugar... should it be taxed like white sugar, or like fruit juice, or as a "natural food"? If the latter, what's to stop someone making a "honey juice" drink (you can buy "cane sugar" drinks in Oz and many pacific islands). It's also a great example of a natural, organic, food that can be bad for you. Tautologically, of course, in the "too much is bad" sense :)

    The goal, as I understand it, of a sugar tax is to use pricing to nudge people away from bad food choices. In a country like NZ with a legal fine print level objection to poverty it would be necessary to make at least a token effort to offset that by either giving money to poor people, or giving money to the "good food" people. Much as I am not a fan of the complexities of the Australian GST, taking GST off fresh food would be one mechanism for that. Even though the benefits from doing that would be disproportionately enjoyed by those rich enough to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. The simpler approach would just be to recycle the tax into benefits or low income tax cuts, but those are equally easily cut later (if, somehow, we elected a government inclined to do that).

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 678 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber driver, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    people wouldn't make a fake Uber app that instead erases the phone

    That would be hilarious. I'm tempted to make one just for the humour value. Think of the laughs when all the drunken punters hit "wipe my phone" instead of "get me home" on a Friday night.

    Appropriately, this is my 666'th comment here.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 678 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Talking past each other:…, in reply to Lilith __,

    Sugar is a nutrient, not a poison.

    The dose makes the poison and the evidence that some people eat too much sugar, and the great majority of those people eat primarily refined sugar.

    I have seen people get "citrus trots" when they eat too much fresh fruit and it's both amusing and gross, but you have to be pretty dedicated to do that. Whereas it's very easy to sit down with a box of sweets, chocolate or soft drink and keep the sugar plateau going until you stupefy yourself. I don't know if you could actually give yourself diarrhea that way, but I'm sure you could make yourself very unwell.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 678 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Talking past each other:…, in reply to James Butler,

    the link between sugar and obesity is tenuous and poorly understood

    It's at least as well understood as the link between environmental estrogens or psuedo-estrogens and obesity, or between soot and global warming. Viz, the question is not whether there's a causal relationship, it's on how strong the effect is.

    But as with all these statistical effects, it's very hard to point to a single factor and a single event and say "caused". Often it's impossible, even in theory. One of the major issues is that the death rate is 100% so it's difficult to find a control population that doesn't die from other causes. With sugar intake it's further complicated by the prevalence of sugars and the expense of eliminating some or all of them. Personal experience here, I find the low FODMAP diet helps my digestion but gosh it's tricky to do.

    The is political "science" rather than medicine. "if we change these 200 things, one of which is introducing a sugar tax, what happens?" You'd never get a university ethics committee to even consider a proposal to form government, let alone approve one.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 678 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Talking past each other:…,

    One caveat is that when we started the whole emphasis on "low fat food" manufacturers responded not by pushing fresh food, but by substituting sugar for fat. Insofar as they focussed on fresh food, it was making it cheaper by producing varieties that suit the food industry at the expense of nutrition.

    I'm somewhat cautious of sugar taxes for fear that they will simply divert the problem into another area. It's pushing on one part of a balloon, while the underlying society-level problem of "we'd rather have cheap than good" is not addressed. That leads to many individuals having to choose either good food or enough food, never both.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 678 posts Report Reply

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