The abundance of convenience-food distributors located in the vicinity of many New Zealand schools is making a mockery of our attempts to reduce childhood obesity.
One such Auckland school was found to have over forty sources of snack food within walking distance; do we expect our sugar-crazed Kiwi kids to miraculously develop the discipline to leave those few coins jingling in their pockets as they direct their vision downwards and steadfastly march past these dairies, convenience stores and other fast-food outlets?
Do we expect that with sufficient education on human biology, personal well-being and such that these kids will learn to exhibit the restraint to bypass the temptation of $1 pre-bagged lollies; or what about a $2.50 energy drink – kids love excess energy – after their big day at school?
What about the chocolate bar? What about the reconstituted fruit bar that tries to fool everyone with all its promises of ‘no added sugars, colours, flavours, or preservatives’, so it must be healthy?
For the record, ‘no added’ is the biggest wrought since ‘pay nothing now’ or, ‘but wait, there’s more’: all ‘no added’ has to mean is that the company producing the final product hasn’t put in any more than was already in the unprocessed mixture; in other words, ‘we didn’t put in any after the last guy did’.
Look on the wrapper – that information is scrupulously forthright – then you’ll see how much colour (numbers), flavour (more numbers), or sugar (carbohydrate) something really contains.
One of the aforementioned food outlets has voluntarily offered to refuse service of sugary treats to children wearing school shirts; so what are the kids doing? The clever buggers are ensuring they get their sugar-fix by slipping on nondescript shirts before entering the shops.
A wise man once offered the suggestion: ‘Place a tax on high sugar items, similar to cigarette sales, and similar to the way cigarette sales have dropped off, surely, these food products will go the same way’.
Right, now, that was either the Right Honourable John Key who said that or it was me and admittedly, it does sound a lot like something I’d say.
Further to those remarks, I recall thinking at the time just how unjust it was that any product or pastime that has since been ruled deadly has incurred an exorbitant tax – cigarettes, alcohol, driving, living etc – which as taxpayers we like to assume is going towards some sort of projected healthcare fund that will aid users when they need it, yet the number one known cause of diabetes in New Zealand – an even greater healthcare expense than cigarettes or alcohol – sugar, has no additional tax at all.
Obviously then, that is what has to happen: a tax needs to be imposed on all high-sugar foods, if for no other reason than to ensure our young don’t turn out as fat as us.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by S Key Moa-Pie
Photography by Cookie Munster