Families fighting obesity need cheaper fresh food – NOT a 'snack tax'

WE have an obesity ­epidemic and it got worse in lockdown.

It is a huge problem. But slapping a tax on sugary and salty foods, as Henry Dimbleby suggested in a review commissioned by the Government, does not seem like the right solution to me.

Dimbleby, the Government’s food tsar, described this tax as being essential to stem the country’s obesity epidemic.

His suggestion is that the extra revenue raised should be used to pay for GPs to prescribe fruit, vegetables and cookery classes on the NHS to help prevent obesity and related ill health.

But the bottom line — literally — is that his “snack tax” could add £3.4billion a year to families’ shopping bills.

That’s £240 for a family of four. I have a better idea.

It is widely accepted that obesity is linked to poverty. So instead of making junk food more expensive, why not lower the cost of fresh foods?

A 2019 survey found 28 per cent of adults in England are obese. A further 36.2 per cent are overweight.


Clearly something has to change. Action is needed. But taxing the least well-off is not the answer.

What’s more, I object to the state telling me — or anyone else — what to eat.
Let’s be realistic: No parent sets out to raise obese and unhealthy children.

We want the best for our kids, which includes cooking and serving healthy meals.

But for an illustration of the problem, look on the Tesco website. Six apples there can cost £2.80, while a packet of biscuits is as little as 50p.

You don’t need to be the food tsar to see the obvious problem: Healthier options often cost more.

As well as the money, eating well comes down to education.

Most adults are in a position to make their own choices and informed decisions. And most people know why they are overweight.

It’s almost always because they eat too much of the wrong things and don’t move or exercise enough.

But we need to actively educate kids about how to cook. We need to bring back domestic science lessons in the classroom.

We must make sure all schools serve healthy meals and get children exercising — forging positive habits that will last them a lifetime.

Just one of the amazing and brilliant things footballer Marcus Rashford has done in his push against child poverty is joining forces with chef Tom Kerridge to launch their Full Time campaign.

They have created films showing how to cook from scratch budget meals that are straightforward to make.


We need to make youngsters physically literate, so they really understand the benefits of moving more. And we need to educate them on how to make healthy food choices.

That starts in school. There is nothing worse than seeing kids struggling with their weight.

When they are very young, what they eat is out of their hands and is the responsibility of the adults around them.

Very sadly, we have one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in Europe.

Around one in ten children aged four to five are classified as obese, and one in five children aged ten to 11.

Those figures are likely to have worsened over lockdown, when so many children were rendered inactive.

Instead of further taxing people who may be struggling financially, the Government needs to offer support.

After all, we found money in the foreign aid budget to educate people in China on the dangers of salt in food — £6.6million, to be precise, used to research how much salt Chinese people used when cooking at home.

As a rule, I believe in taxation. But I take issue with this suggested snack tax because it would only really affect low-income families.

Wealthy families can afford it.

What people really need is education to adopt new ways of eating and moving to make life-changing differences to their health. And they need easier access to healthy food.

What they really DON’T need is a new tax putting them even more out of pocket.

Wrong gear, Lewis

I’m no style guru but photos of Formula 1 champ Lewis Hamilton walking the Silverstone circuit with his bulldog Roscoe ahead of today’s British Grand Prix made me think his dog was better dressed than him.

He was wearing a psychedelic purple and pink jumper bearing an image of a smiling flower, plus equally bold purple and blue patterned trousers.

Sorry, Lewis, you are brilliant – but in this get-up you look more like a children’s entertainer than an F1 driver.

I expected to see balloons somewhere close by.

Stiffer terms needed

Another day, another domestic violence victim.

Brenda Welch, 50, has revealed how her ex-husband left her close to death after beating her with an iron bar and setting her on fire.

David Morgan, 60, launched the attack after she ended her abusive marriage to him.

Brenda, from the US city of Lake Stevens, in Washington state, suffered a fractured skull and 23 per cent burns to her body but miraculously survived.

Her ex has been jailed for 21 years but that is just not enough for this crime.

Saying that, if it had been the UK, he would probably have got ten years and been out in five. Our justice system needs to wake up.

Bottom line is there’s too much on show, Kimberley

The red carpet just isn’t what it used to be. Swimwear designer Kimberley Garner flashed her bottom at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday.

Her La Metamorphose gown featured chiffon pleats that flared out into a full-length skirt with high leg slits.

Call me old-fashioned but what happened to leaving something – anything – to the imagination?

Footie louts bring shame

We have come a long way when it comes to other countries’ perception of England football fans.

But then, just like that, we slid to the bottom of the Snakes And Ladders board – with the video footage of an England fan sticking a lit flare up his backside and snorting cocaine before entering Wembley Stadium without a ticket last Sunday.

As if that were not bad enough, he then boasted: “I’m not sorry.”

Charlie Perry, 25, claimed he drank 20 cans of cider and “banged a load of powder” during an all-day bender, as England took on Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

He started drinking at 8.30am and was filmed apparently snorting white powder from a bag, then with the flare, while surrounded by fans in Leicester Square.

He later joined thousands of ticketless fans who made a charge on Wembley.


But he told The Sun he was without remorse, saying: “Nah, no way – I’m not saying sorry.”

This bloke may be why we do not win a bid to host another World Cup in the UK for decades.

Doing all of these things while drunk is one thing. Not feeling ashamed when you sober up is quite another.

International games are played on a world stage but while we performed well – very well – on the pitch, off it we let ourselves down.

The three lions on the England shirt stand for strength and integrity – not aggression and attack.

The England team, manager and Football Association could not have worked harder to ensure the tournament was a huge success, which it was.

Unfortunately, we were let down by a minority of our own fans.

Unfortunately, the national team’s games attract some of the worst elements of our society, who are hell-bent on embarrassing the country.

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