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Health Campaigners Are Way Off-Track With Their Demonising of Sugar and Other Foods They Don't Like

04/07/2016 16:24 | Updated 04 July 2016

Amid the fallout from the EU referendum, and all the talk about leadership elections, the promised childhood obesity strategy seems to be ever more elusive. Will it ever be seen?

It was supposed to have been published last December. Then we were told January, then February, and still no sign of it. It is supposedly nearly complete, but now we are told it will be 'late summer' when it is published. That sounds like September to me.

I would like to highlight an interesting study published last November. The study was by Cornell University in the US. This showed that French fries, full-calorie soft drinks and desserts make no difference to the body mass index for 95% of the population (the study looked at the US population before you ask).

The study showed that the only people who put on weight with so-called 'junk-food' are people who are chronically underweight, and people who are morbidly obese. For everyone else, fizzy drinks and similar products made no difference to their weight.

Looking at the study, it also showed that people who are chronically underweight and those who are morbidly obese eat more take-out food than the rest of us.

For someone who was chronically underweight, they ate an average 3.7 take-out meals a week. For someone who was morbidly obese, they ate an average 3.95 take-out meals a week. For the rest of the population (the 95%), the average was 3.47 take-out meals a week.

And for fast food, the figures are even more stark. Chronically underweight people ate an average 3.2 fast food meals a week, morbidly obese people ate 3.05 fast food meals a week. And the remaining 95% of the population only ate 2.1 fast food meals a week.

What does this show? It shows that health campaigners simply do not understand the causes of obesity. Obesity is far more complex than it is made out to be, and health campaigners are just looking for lazy solutions to a complex issue.

What is really concerning is that the obsessing over sugar will not help people who are chronically underweight or morbidly obese. Those people will see no benefit to their health from a sugar tax. They will see no benefit from restricting 'buy one, get one free' either. All it will do is cost them more money.

If health campaigners had any compassion for these people, they would stop going on about how bad sugar is, and go back to the drawing board about the true causes of obesity.

The study also shows how ineffective a sugar tax will be. Why have a sugar tax for the entire population when it is only 5% of the population who need to change their eating habits?

Health campaigners should be looking at improving the consumption patterns of people, rather than just obsessing about single ingredients such as sugar. They should be advising and encouraging us to stop snacking between meals, not telling what we should be eating.

We all know people who can eat like a dinosaur and are as thin as a rake. To suggest sugar causes obesity is a little bit misleading. For the majority of people, it does not lead to weight gain.

Why the need for all the scaremongering over sugar and other foods? Why do health campaigners feel the need to dictate our food choices? We don't need health nannies telling us what to put in our shopping baskets. Perhaps they ought to read up on the true causes of obesity before lecturing the rest of us.

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