Mythbusting booze

Joe Boswell writes: Re. “On the benefits of a sugar tax” (yesterday). In response to Bernard Keane’s piece on the suggested tax on sugary drinks, John Frahm made some dubious assertions:

“A skewed tax system has also made more damaging, higher alcohol beverages – wine, port, etc. – cheaper than lower ones such as beer.”

Higher alcohol beverages are not more damaging. Drinking more alcohol does more damage than less, obviously, but there is no reason to assume people must drink more alcohol if they choose higher strength beverages. Also, importantly, beers (for the same volume of alcohol) typically contain much more sugar (maltose) than do wines (fructose), while most spirits have no sugar at all until they are ruined by adding a sweet mixer. On that basis, there is a solid argument for taxing beers more than those other drinks, although a more rational and consistent system would tax the volume of alcohol and tax the volume of sugar in all drinks. This might result in more tax on wines, fruit juices and sweet mixers, not much change for beer and lower tax on spirits.

“… with regards to obesity there is so much more to be done to address our plummeting physical activity levels.”

But physical activity makes people hungry, which tends to make them eat more. If they consume more carbohydrates they may well become even more obese. There are benefits to physical activity but there is no chance it can solve the obesity epidemic without addressing other factors.

PS: Here are three photos of a popular wee howff in Newcastle upon Tyne I often frequented years ago, which I suspect, from his several recent condemnations of protectionism, may be Bernard Keane’s spiritual home.

Roger Clifton writes: Quite obviously, the problem is that we now “satisfy our cravings”, when we once had to wait till mealtime. Instead of drinking straight from the tap, children now automatically go to the fridge door where there is routinely an array of so-called health drinks. What a lie! The only fruit juice that should be in your fridge should be tightly bound up in orange skin. And the only milk, sweetened or not, should be in the butter jar. Chuck it all out! Take a sip of water and dream that you are slim again. And give the kids a clip under the ear for their impatience. They, as we did, must wait until mealtime.

Peter Fray

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