Here they are again, this government of ours, rambling on about increasing tax on sugary drinks and removing them from hospital shops. Don't they realise they've missed the point?
When Jamie Oliver set about to change our diets for the better, he started in schools. Why? Because quite frankly, it's no good aiming this information at sixty-year-olds who have created lifetime habits and most likely won't want to change them.
If there are parents out there still giving their children Fruit Shoots and other (for lack of a better word) 'drinks' filled with sugar and artificial rubbish, despite the panoply of information so readily available, it is them we need to be targeting. Why are these parents still under the impression that these drinks are okay to give their children, even if it is just as a rare 'treat'? Why are parents not waking up to the fact that if you give your child nothing but water from the offset, they will not want anything but water because we wouldn't have created within them an unyielding addiction that leads to 'cravings' for sweet drinks to quench their thirst instead of water which they may then describe as 'boring'? The human body can last up to three weeks without food, but water is a different story. Every living cell in the body needs it to function. It is essentially our life-source, so I'd say it's anything but boring, and this is what we need to be teaching our children.
We can remove these drinks from hospital shops but the person in question can simply go and find the nearest shop or petrol station and buy their drink of choice there.
What we need to be doing is educating, on a mass level, the population of Britain about nutrition, by giving them a comprehensive understanding of nutrition and how the body responds to it, and not just by telling them to eat their five a day and cut out sugar. Because what happens when people become obsessed with one diet fad, such as removing sugar from the diet, is that they look for substitutes because they have not learnt about nutrition or the body; they have simply learnt what helps them lose weight, and at what price are we losing weight?
Weekly meet-up diet-plan groups that started popping up in the '80s and '90s are perhaps the worst thing that has happened to our collective health since cigarettes; most of them recommend substituting anything sugary with artificial sweeteners, chemicals that are (if we had to choose) worse for our health than refined sugar. The advice from these organisations to cut out fat and sugar is, in my opinion, one of the reasons that we are seeing a huge increase in early onset dementia. The brain needs fat. It cannot function or grow without it and many adults who began following this fat-free craze thirty-odd years ago are now in their middle ages being diagnosed with early onset dementia, among other things.
The ironic thing is that most of these 'fat-free' foods have increased amounts of sugar, which is a lot worse for the heart than healthy fats. A fruit flavoured yogurt, for example, contains about 12 grams of added sugar. This equates to eating a small cup of yogurt with a bowl of frosted corn flakes. We need to forget about all these fads, stop buying convenience food and eat fresh, whole foods that we (heaven forbid) prepare ourselves.
Studies on Aspartame (the sweetener used in Diet Coke) have shown a range of adverse effects, from nausea and dizziness to birth defects and multiple sclerosis. People substituting Coke with Diet Coke should not be under any illusion that this is better for anything other than their waistlines. MS is essentially nerve damage on the brain and the spinal cord, most likely caused by the immune system attacking the fatty myelin sheath around the brain. If we are reducing the one thing that the brain needs to function, and substituting it with a magnitude of toxins known to harm the immune system and the nervous system, we are essentially begging for multiple sclerosis.
What the government should actually be doing is making these drinks illegal, because they have a responsibility to us, the people, not to the pockets of the manufacturers and these drinks are in fact poisonous. These items need to be removed from our country altogether, and money needs to be put into education, at a grassroots level.
If midwives, ante-natal instructors and even general practitioners, most of whom have not had sufficient training in nutrition, were provided with the proper education, and this information was filtered down to new parents, we would see an entire new generation more healthy and health-conscious than ever before, and not just a generation obsessed with weight loss.
Nutrition classes could also be held in schools. Imagine the changes we would see in our society if all aspects of diet were taught to children, including reducing intake of refined sugars and not replacing them with artificial sweeteners or fat-free products, and encouraging people to understand that natural sugar like that found in fruit, in moderation--like everything--is healthy.
Despite the government's miseducation, we are fortunate enough to live in an age where information is available wherever we are on the planet, at the touch of a button. We are hearing about the dangers of increased sugar consumption everywhere, so why are people choosing to give refined sugar to their children, especially when there are so many alternatives? There really is no excuse anymore to be shovelling this rubbish into our children.
However, the mass population will, as a general rule, do what they are told, therefore it is up to the government to take control when it comes to the health of our children and do a hell of a lot more than just removing sugary drinks from hospital shops.
Her autobiography, 'My Enemy, My Friend', can be found here