Take the fight to sugar vendors - Confronting the obesity crisis

THIS is the time of year when any of us who are overweight, once again, yet again, try to find redemption — physical and emotional — attempting to lose weight. 

As anyone who has tried and failed to do this — far, far more people than those who have succeeded — will confirm our culture, our obsession with food, makes this far more daunting than it need be. Everything from acres of sweets at every shop or garage check out, constant, unavoidable television advertising, junk food becoming central in time-poor lives, and endless cookery programmes ensure the sternest will is constantly tested. It is an uneven match with predictable consequences.

Britian’s NHS chief Simon Stevens has decided to introduce a sugar tax on the high-sugar drinks and snacks sold in hospital cafes and vending machines in an effort to discourage their consumption. Mr Stevens said the initiative is about more than the wellbeing of people, it’s about the sustainability of the NHS which is already struggling financially to cope with obesity-related illnesses. Our health minister, Leo Varadkar, said he would consider the initiative positively.

One-in-four primary schoolchildren is overweight making this a public health priority and a nascent threat to stretched health services. It is well past time we imposed sanctions on products doing so much to destroy our health. Politicians, especially at EU level, who oppose this must explain why and explain whose interests are best served by today’s regime.

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