I’ve always been a big fan of Jamie Oliver. I’m a seasoned series watcher and if you were to open my kitchen cupboard you may be attacked by one of the many Jamie cookbooks that flow out of my unnecessary cookbook collection. However, Jamie, we have a problem. A serious problem.
This week, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, famously known for taking on School foods in the US and the UK, has proposed that Australia adopts a “sugar”tax. Yup, you heard right, a “Sugar”tax.
What prey is a “sugar” tax? Well simply put, Jamie is promoting that if the Government places a tax on things like soft drinks, we, the Australian population are less likely to consume them and therefor we will tackle the obesity problem! Look, I like your spirit Jamo, but I think we’ve missed the mark.
Currently Australia has extraordinary taxes on a few consumer products with the aim of reducing consumption and increasing Australian’s health. Example A. Cigarettes. on August 1st 2013 the Government increased the tax on ciggies to 12.5%, did it help? Sure there will be some people who will use that incentive to quit but if you don’t want to then you will simply groan once or twice and re-budget your weekly allowance to spend more on cigarettes. Equally, Australia has some of the highest taxes on Alcohol, ironically a topic of conversation that is high on everyone’s agenda at the moment given the Baird Government’s push to enforce lock out rules as a result of the huge amount of alcohol driven violence on our streets. Australian’s consume high amounts of alcohol, tax or no tax, again, we will just pay for it!
So do we really think that by whacking a tax on a bunch of sugary drinks we are somehow going to kick the obesity problem out of the park? Let’s be honest for a moment, it’s highly unlikely. Now I for one am getting a little tired of the fact that we are constantly trying to find ways of changing things in society to help people who quite honestly seem to lack common sense. When are we just going to walk away and let people live their lives? Why is it fair for me to pay extra tax on the occasional soft drink (or alcoholic beverage now you mention it) that I have ,just because I have self control and others don’t? Are we taking things too far?
Sugar, carbs, protein, fats and other “bad” things exist, so does responsibility, education and a balanced frame of mind. You know what breaks my heart? To think that my kids may grow up in a world where they may never know the excitement of a Friday lunch order from the Tuck shop. The anticipation of being a 3rd grader, getting closer to lunch time knowing that today was your day. Today was the day you were lucky enough to be treated with a hot sausage roll and if you were really lucky a chocolate milk too! Now days, the canteen menu is so healthy it leaves little to be desired by the average adult.
I grew up in a super healthy house hold. My parents are doctors, my Mum’s idea of a treat at one stage was a carob coated banana, but even we had treats. Fridays were tuck shop days, every so often we would go to town after school and share a bowl of hot chips for afternoon tea, Maccas was a road trip food only and soft drink was an occasional treat often saved for birthday parties. To me, we lived in the perfect balanced household.
By 16, my focus on food had shifted and for the next 5 years I battled anorexia and my childhood love foods became my mortal enemies. Now as a fully recovered, healthy adult, I love my treat days, my occasional glass of wine, my ice cream for desert and know with a healthy balanced mind the importance of eating low GI foods, salad and fresh fruit, a balanced amount of protein and exercising, in other words I’m just normal. Plus I can say honestly every so often I’ll drink a sugary drink and boy do I enjoy it!
The point is, a tax or taking our kids childhoods away in a canteen is not going to change a whole society . We need to stop trying to make everyone perfect and allow each individual to live their own life. The educational material is out there, if people still ignore it surely it’s them not the whole society. I have no right in a first world country to comment on anyone’s lifestyle so why on earth should I have to pay a tax on it! Someone consuming too much sugar is not hurting anyone else but themselves and to be quite frank, if they are silly enough not the understand a balanced lifestyle then let them run their own course.
It’s about time we back off the bad food and start letting our kids be kids and we as adults treat ourselves as we wish! Certainly one thing, why should I be forced to pay more for my occasional soft drink because someone else lacks that control….sorry but no! It’s about time we let people make their own decisions and stop trying to fix everything!
Now if you excuse me, it’s Friday night and I’ve got a date with the couch, pizza and a glass of wine!