Nick Clegg’s been on a bit of a journey on his views about sugar consumption. In an article for the Evening Standard last week, he outlined the dangers of consuming too much hidden sugar and said that he now favoured strong action to reduce our sugar consumption:
Now, finally, we are beginning to have a proper debate about what we can and should do about it. A recent report by Public Health England proposed a number of measures, as has the ever- compelling Jamie Oliver.
Reducing two-for-one deals, clamping down on advertising targeted at children, reining in the marketing of high-sugar food and drinks, reducing sugar content and portion sizes, and introducing a tax on sugary drinks and food have all been called for.
I always used to take a classical liberal view of these things — if you want to mess up your own health you should be free to do so. It’s not for the state to tell you how to live. I was even ambivalent about the smoking ban when it was debated nearly a decade ago.
But I’ve become progressively more illiberal when it comes to sugar, precisely because so much of it is eaten involuntarily — or at least unknowingly. If you don’t know what you’re really eating — or you have to have a PhD to interpret the information on the packaging — it’s harder to exercise true freedom of choice.
So, much as Jamie Oliver’s campaigning zeal persuaded me some years ago of the need for healthy, universal free school meals for young children at school, I’m now convinced action is needed to help us kick our sugar habit. Stopping targeted advertising at children seems like a no-brainer. As do limits on heavy-handed marketing, reducing portion sizes and giving consumers simpler descriptions so that we can see how many teaspoons of sugar are contained in the cereals or soft drinks we buy for our children.
You can read the whole article here.
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