Crazy in love with fizzy drinks: Why sugar tax (or a burping Beyoncé) is needed to break the addiction

One in four British men and women are obese - and we're all paying for it

Share
Related Topics

Cut to a lustrous Beyoncé, mid break, as she turns to camera: “Everybody knows there’s no joy quite like cracking open a cold can of Pepsi, gulping it down” [she cracks and gulps] “maybe having one or two or three thousand more” [she ages] “definitely not stopping” [she ages some more] “then watching your teeth yellow, your gut widen, and a concerned expression shade your doctor’s face as he gently lets on how corrupt your insides have become” [she uglifies at high speed, before burping despondently]. “Enjoy!”

Unfortunately I don’t have the budget or CGI nous to produce this guerrilla advert – which I hope you’ll agree is not without artistic merit – at least not in time for Sunday’s NFL Super Bowl. Beyoncé fans won’t be disappointed though. The Queen of Pop is scheduled to appear in person, as the face of Pepsi, and belt out solos to an audience that consumes 45 gallons of carbonated syrup a year per person – or in layman’s terms, “probably too much.”

Born in the 1850s, sugary fizzy drinks have become one of 2013’s problem topics. Around 1.5 billion adults are today considered overweight. Nearly a quarter of British men and women are obese. Soft drinks – which contain even less nutritional value than a Big Mac – stand accused by an increasingly vociferous lobby of fat-creation on an industrial scale. One prime objector is Sustain, a farming charity, who earlier this week roused the support of 60 other public bodies and called on the UK Government to introduce a “sin tax”  of 20p per litre on sugary drinks.

The demand has ruffled feathers. Libertarians respond (in disgust) that nobody was ever fooled into thinking Dr Pepper a medical man, and so long as nobody else is harmed, people should be left to drink what they please. To their eyes intervention would constitute another example of snobby state nannying – one that would hit the poor (regular cola-drinkers) more than the rich (Appletiser at worst).

Skinny, temperate drinkers might agree. But looked at practically, as more than an abstract question of individual freedom, holes in the libertarian logic show up. By avoiding any attempt at regulation of the soft-drink industry, governments don’t simply back their citizens’ wisdom of beverage-choice, they grant corporations the freedom to profit massively from marketing drinks that damage public health – a freedom for which the NHS (a.k.a the taxpayer) must pick up the tab, paying £6bn a year to combat diet-related illnesses, according to Sustain.

In New York a combative Mayor Bloomberg has banned the sale of “supersize” drinks. Whether or not a tax is the right option we should seriously consider similar moves. And if public opinion still needs a nudge in the right direction, copyright is hereby granted to anybody rich and artistically serious enough to film “The Beyoncé Burp”.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: how come Ed Miliband’s tuition fee ‘cut’ is so popular, then?

John Rentoul
Carrie's son Jack on holiday in the Carribean  

As a parent of a child with autism, this is what I want you to know about my family

Carrie Cariello
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn