The nanny state is a term often coined to refer to a government or policies which are overprotective or interfere unduly with the personal choice of the individual. It is a conservative term of British origin that likens government to the role that a nanny plays in rearing children.
The thing that finally sparked me to write about the nanny state is that on the 6th April 2018 the British government introduced a new tax on fizzy drinks. There are two categories of taxation that are set to come into play, one is for drinks where the content of sugar is more than 5g per 100ml, and the other is a higher level which will be imposed on drinks with 8g per 100ml or more, this amount of tax is expected to raise around £520 Million pounds according to estimates which will be used to fund sports in primary schools.
Here is the thing though health campaigners say that taxing sugar will reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes but is a tax necessary, is state interference necessary, people are surely responsible for themselves. There is not a single person, young or old who is not aware of the adverse effects bad food and drinks have on us so surely the responsibility relies upon us, not the manufacturer and it is definitely not for the government to get involved with.
You will find that whilst fizzy drink consumption will go down it will not solve the problems it is designed to tackle because if someone wants a bottle of Coca-Cola then you will still buy it, no tax will desensitize it as a product, you will, in fact, find that once again the only socio-economic group that will be hit are going to be the poorest who cannot afford to eat healthy because of how expensive it is so yet again taking more money away from people who cannot afford to live in the current climate.
The University of Cambridge did a study on the price gap between more and less healthy food and the findings between 2002 and 2012 (a little outdated I know but still relevant) found that healthy foods were consistently more expensive than less healthy foods and have risen more sharply in price over time.
The average increase in healthy foods was an increase of £1.84 per 1000kcal (1000 calories) compared to less healthy food which was £0.73 per 1000kcal. In proper terms in 2002, 1000kcal cost an average of £5.65 compared to less healthy food which only cost £1.77, by 2012 this had changed drastically to £7.49 for healthy food and only £2.50 for less healthy food.
Selected foods and price changes per 1000kcals
• Tinned tomatoes
2002 – £4.71
2012 – £9.60
Increase of £4.89
• Baked beans
2002 – £1.05
2012 – £2.05
Increase of £1
• Semi-skimmed mils
2002 – £1.07
2012 – £1.73
Increase of £0.66
• Frozen pizza
2002 – £2.10
2012 – £1.58
Increase of £0.52
• Ice Cream
2002 – £1.50
2012 – £1.57
Increase of £0.07
You get the general idea, that is just an example over a 10 year period but the solution here is not to bring less healthy food and drink into a similar price bracket with healthy food, it needs to be looked into why this is the case, when people have to choose between eating to stay alive or eating within a balanced and healthy diet people on a low income are going to have to choose the first option because they are priced out of the latter.
So, if the government really wants to interfere in this instance fine, find out why healthy food costs so much and then do something about it instead of attacking the effect not the cause of poor diets.
Now I am not saying that it is only people in the lower socio-economic areas who are the ones who are obese in the majority, all my argument above is trying to do, is point out where the failings actually are and it is not with unhealthy foods but the price of food on a whole.