Soft drinks without added sugar? Not such a ’new’ concept – but most contain sweeteners instead – carrying different health risks… I was promoting a juice with no added sugar (NO sweeteners either) – relying on its own taste (and watered down!). Target audience? – children.

How did it go? Well, quite a few parents said their children only got water now – so worried were they about fizzy drinks, sweeteners and excess sugar. Good! But many said their kids wouldn’t like the juice as it wasn’t sweet enough or fizzy! Oh dear… As for the children – they mostly all liked it and adapted to the less sugary taste quickly – which made me wonder how we ever got into this mess with all food and drink being drenched in masses of sugar – often secretly, using names like ‘dextrose’ to confuse us.

And sadly many parents took the easy route buying extremely sugary drinks because they knew it would keep the peace at home, and many were a lot cheaper. It occurred to me, why not make less sugary drinks popular by making them very cheap – rather than introducing a sugar tax – how about a tax REDUCTION on ‘non tampered with’ drinks?

We are sitting on a health time bomb with an obese nation addicted to takeaways, sugary drinks, cheap chocolate, sugary cereals, biscuits and any cheap fattening food out there. Sugar is added to many foods you might not imagine – just about every processed/packet food has added sugar. Years ago this would not have happened – not least because everything was cooked from scratch at home. Time consuming maybe, but healthier, cheaper and much more satisfying.

Takeaways’ were unheard of – except maybe fish and chips (and that was cooked fresh – I don’t remember added sugar either!). Savoury food has added sugar now just as much as sweet stuff.

How about a compulsory message on everything that says ‘Added Sugar’ rather than the ‘No added sugar’ line, making the addition of extra sugar no longer the norm? It seems we always work in reverse – plastic and excess packaging was inflicted on us and we are guilt-tripped if we have too much/don’t constantly recycle – and now the same with sugar. Who asked for all this anyway? We are also bombarded with diets and made to feel bad if we aren’t thin! A whole new industry has appeared, making us pay for the ‘health benefit’ of less ‘interfered with’ food.

It took a long time for the added sugar (and salt) in food to surface. No explanation was ever given as to why it started, although we know of course – to make food addictive to our taste buds.  As one child said to me: “Wow! This juice tastes of … apples!” Have we become so accustomed to the fake taste of extra sugar/sweeteners/chemicals that we are shocked when something actually tastes… ‘real’?

The reaction of many children told me it wouldn’t take long to get used to natural flavours, so there is no justification for any of this, just plain coldhearted, callous, cynical marketing of products with tons of sugar to create an incessant craving. The government’s ‘sugar tax’ is only punishing those who are so addicted they cannot give it up, and we are supposed to be grateful! The joke is a small amount of sugar is harmless, and natural sugar contains a lot of goodness that we need, but that has also been ‘processed’ – for the word refined read ‘all goodness removed’.

Obesity is still rising in the UK. Recently 62% of the population were overweight, and 28% obese – whereas even a generation or two ago virtually no one was fat! At school there was probably one fat child. People were at their healthiest when food was rationed during the war. Now it takes extreme vigilance to restrict our consumption of fat and sugar as much is hidden.

Sugar activates the same reward system in the brain as drugs, so the more we consume the more we want.

Fuelling this is that we all work now, so like everything else we expect food and drink immediately and eat ‘on the go’ – takeaways and ready meals – no time to consider what we eat or how much. In the USA years ago I noticed how cheap food was – and how much people ate. This now true in the UK, and we now pay more for food WITHOUT added sugar.

Tampering with a nations food and drink is the ultimate cynicism. We also have the USA’s obesity problem. We have people being airlifted out of their houses, too obese to move, and operations to remove fat and reduce stomachs are commonplace on the NHS. Dieting is is a HUGE billion-pound business!  Sugar is considered a poison by many, and ‘addiction’ is rife. Hidden sugar is present everywhere – takeaways, coffees, fizzy drinks, juices, soups, sauces, salad creams, even toothpaste! Its an uphill battle – a mountain of fat and added sugar has rolled over us and we are only just beginning to deal with it. Like everything else – tobacco, ‘e’ numbers, chemical additives, trans fats etc. the huge corporations who have grown wealthy on it will resist every effort to change. As we get fatter so they get richer – perhaps they should pay for the extra burden on the NHS.. 

We have again been duped into an addiction or expectation and then sold an expensive solution.

Excess sugar is linked to cancer, heart and liver problems, oral disease and more. Diabetes is ever increasing, yet many still insist diet plays no part….! … even though reducing sugar often helps enormously.

If previous generations saw our food addiction, obesity, ensuing NHS interventions and operations, and the massive diet industry, they would surely think we had gone completely insane.

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