On Friday, the UK introduced a “Sugar Tax” on sweet drinks, purportedly to help reduce childhood obesity. Will it work? Personally, I doubt it.
There’s a few reasons – first and foremost, that a lot of manufacturers have already chosen to reduce the sugar levels in their drinks to put them into lower rates for the sugar tax.
Connected to that, diet and zero-calorie versions of most of those drinks have been available for years. If people haven’t chosen to swap by now, will paying 10p extra make them change? Probably not. There’s not even a really visible price difference – at least two of the shop chains I use regularly have upped the price on all the drinks, not just the sugary ones, which also defeats the object. If there were a visible difference ( “I can buy 500ml of the sugary one for £1.50, or the diet one for £1.35, so I’ll save money”) then it might work, but without that, I don’t see that there’s a real driver to force the change.
Alongside that, I *personally* have a problem with government telling me how to be healthy, and attempting to enforce that. I have the same issue when it comes to smoking, the way government encourages people to stop smoking, while also getting massive amounts of income from the tax and duty on cigarettes. (This also applies for alcohol, telling people to drink less while getting the income from the tax and duty, and so on and so on)
I also suspect that there’s a lot more damage done by the ‘invisibly’ sweet drinks – the bizarre creamy milky super-sweet concoctions from Starbucks, Caffe Nero, Costa et al – which now seem to be far more prevalent than sweet fizzy drinks. I suspect there’s a lot more of the obesity blame that can be laid on the coffee culture now than can be laid at the soft-drinks industry. I’m not even sure that the coffee chains are being hit by the sugar tax – I haven’t seen any mention of it being on anything except the soft-drinks industry.
It’ll be interesting to see the results – although of course the government will always claim it to have been a massive success, even when it’s a clusterfuck of monumental proportions – but I really don’t expect to see it have any positive effects on reducing obesity, whether in children or adults.
As people should have gathered, I’m currently doing a bundle of plans for the coming year, as well as continuing to make changes to my general life, health, fitness and so on.
One of those changes is – yet again – cutting down a lot on my caffeine intake, and seeing how things go.
My caffeine intake is highly cyclic, I cut it down (and sometimes out) for a while, and then it slowly goes back up again. And lo, another cycle continues.
Anyway, this time round I’m working on it again, and so far it’s fairly successful. I’m drinking a lot more water, and the Diet Coke intake is commensurately much, much lower.
What’s annoying, though, is that even with a massively reduced intake, it hasn’t affected my insomnia at all. It’s annoying because just about every person who has ever pointed out I drink too much Diet Coke (or caffeine in any other format) has said it explains my insomnia.
But nope, even when I’m just drinking water – and have been for a couple of weeks – my sleep is still atrocious. Indeed, sometimes even worse than usual.
It really is bloody annoying.
While I’m off and job-hunting, one of my little side-projects is to (yet again) cut down on my intake of Diet Coke. It seems it’s a regular(ish) cycle with me, although I have cut it down significantly anyway from where it all was a few years ago.
As it is, I’m down to one 500ml bottle a day. It’ll vary again over time, but I’m quite happy with where it stands.
We’re now six full months into 2013, and I’ve kept the intake down. It’s not zero – I don’t want it to be – but in general it’s about a quarter to a third of what it used to be, if not less. I’m still quite proud of that reduction, and of keeping the reduction going. My water intake has increased significantly as a result too, which is also supposedly a good thing – it’s certainly doing its thing to keep my kidneys in working order!
I still have good days and bad days – but less bad days than I used to – but overall I think it’s fair to say that the reduction might just be here to stay. Time will tell of course, but I think this is the longest sustained cut-down I’ve had in years.
Back at the end of 2012, I said I’d got two main plans for this year,
- Weigh less
- Write more
So, one month in, where do we stand?
On Point One, I’ve lost half a stone. Obviously that’s not insignificant, but there’s a long way to go still.
As part of it, I’ve been keeping a food diary for the last month, which has been interesting. It’s allowed me to keep track of what I’m eating and illustrate any bad foods (or even bad days) although it’s shown more that the intake side is lower than it should be. (I’m averaging about 1600 a day, from current evidence)
As I’ve written before, I’ve also had the health MOT this month : blood pressure, cholesterol, thyroid, blood sugar, the lot. It’s all come through OK, so that’s another thing.
And, of course, I’ve cut down my intake of Diet Coke significantly. It’s still got a small way to go if I’m to cut it out completely, but it’s still massively reduced from where it was.
Now it’s a case of upping the exercise levels as part of that project point.
For Point Two, I’ve managed to do some writing, although not as much as I’d hoped. I’ve got a short story mostly done, which I want to get completed in the next few days. I’ve also been writing a new idea, and that’s currently about a fifth of the way through it. Again, it’s something I’m working on, and it’s already better than it was last year, but there’s a long way to go.
Still though, it’s been a good start to the year.
A while back, I started cutting down on my intake of Diet Coke, and I have to say, so far it’s going pretty well. It’s been a bit turbulent, and while I halved it when I started back in November, by mid-December it was back to normal. I properly dropped it again once I was on leave over Christmas, and it’s been kept down for near on a month now.
I’d decided that I wasn’t going to cut it all the way out – or at least not immediately – and opted instead for a phased withdrawal. It’s a drink I like drinking, so I don’t know that I’ll cut it all the way out.
Anyway, so far I’ve done pretty well. I’m down to about one-third of what I was drinking, and I’ve replaced the majority of the intake with water, which is supposed to be a better alternative. (I’m not yet convinced – I don’t feel masses better for it, it’s – frankly – fucking boring, and it makes me piss like a horse)
I’m pleased with how I’m doing – I have good days with even less intake, and I have shit days where I have more, but most importantly, even on the shit days I’m drinking no more than half the Diet Coke I was doing.
It’s not been part of the weight loss plan – the calorific intake wasn’t that high, even when the intake was high – but it’s part of the general plan for this year, regardless.
There’s still a way to go – but I’m happy with where things stand for now.