Sugar and Corporate Trickery in the United Kingdom


It is difficult to avoid being drawn in by the ongoing sugar war in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. The turmoil has existed for years, and newsworthy events are frequent. In March of this year, this story was published:

The U.K. announced a new tax on sugary drinks, mandating a fee for any beverage with more than 5 grams of sugar per 100 milliliters. A higher rate applies to drinks with more than 8 grams… The tax is set to go into effect in 2018, and will cost the equivalent of $0.12 for a can of soda.

Immediately, of course, manufacturers and lobbyists began to devise strategies to get over, under, or around the proposed new law. In some cases, they manage to align their cause to an argument for the public good, which sounds okay for a minute, until some thought is given to it. In other cases, the public relations specialists are not even that successful.

A proposed new law stimulates opportunists and speculators to swarm like cockroaches out of the woodwork. A company that sells Sucralose, Acesulfame K, Aspartame, Saccharin, and Stevia issued a press release titled “The sugar tax — there is an alternative,” the alternative being their own questionable products. These are chemicals in which people who are fond of their thymus glands, central nervous systems, digestive tracts, livers, kidneys, and other body parts, might want to think twice before indulging.

Anyway, the purpose of this particular press release was to reassure other businesses and the company’s own stockholders, and even the consumers, of the following:

Despite some shortages in the market we have no problems with availability.

That is a puzzling, self-contradictory statement. A shortage means that supply does not keep up with demand, so there is not enough of a thing. Technically speaking, that actually is a problem with availability. A shortage in the market is, ipso facto, an availability problem.

“Despite some shortages in the market we have no problems with availability” is a perfect example of the kind of double-talk that corporations attempt to pass off as valid and meaningful information. If hearing or reading such a statement gives a person a head cramp, that reaction is perfectly justified, because it is meaningless and intentionally misleading, just like 99% of what corporate entities say.

Like everything else, the struggle to reduce sugar consumption via an economic solution is inextricably entwined with the eternal British problem of class warfare. As always, the industry’s mouthpieces raise a patently insincere wail of dismay on behalf of the poor. The economically disadvantaged drink enormous amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages, so how could the government be cruel enough to increase the tax on one of the few luxuries the less privileged classes can afford?

As they float away on a river of crocodile tears, the industry spokespeople also point to the candy industry and the beer industry, where these outrageous new limitations will no doubt cause the elimination of jobs, and then even fewer Britons, Scots, Irish, and Welsh will be able to afford fizzy drinks.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “2016 Could Be the Year of the Soda Tax,”, 03/21/16
Source: “The sugar tax — there is an alternative,”, 11/01/16
Photo credit: Michael Lehet via Visualhunt/CC BY-ND

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