TV3 pimps sugar tax

Two nights ago TV3 was doing its bit to pressure Health Minister Jonathan Coleman into introducing a sugar tax in NZ by running ‘Jamie’s Sugar Rush’ .

Join Jamie Oliver in his brand new documentary as he investigates the role sugar is playing in rising global health problems.

Jamie Oliver has taken great delight in the recent UK announcement for a sugar tax. Fair enough; he’s entitled to his view.

But is he really walking the talk, or just talking the talk?

Some would say no, particularly Christopher Snowdon at Velvet Glove, Iron Fist, who highlights;

Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef and cockwomble, has decided to introduce a soda tax in his restaurants “to send a powerful and strong message to government”. He claims that he will give money raised to the state-funded sock-puppet charity Sustain, who are agitating for a soft drinks tax that will cost taxpayers £1 billion a year.

If Oliver feels so strongly about fizzy drinks he could simply stop selling them, but that would hit his bottom line so he’d rather gouge his customers to fund a campaign for a state-sanctioned ‘level playing field’ that will rip off his competitors’ customers too.   

To stop selling sugary drinks would require Oliver to show a degree of consistency and integrity that he has rarely displayed. Chefs are on very shaky ground when they start demonising a widely used ingredient like sugar (and, before that, butter) because it is likely that they use it more widely than most. If you’re going to claim that sugar is “the next tobacco” you need to make sure that you don’t lace your own food with it.

So he’s quite happy to sell sugary drinks in his restaurants. There’s a word starting with ‘H’ that springs to mind here.

I haven’t read Jamie Oliver’s cook books, and I never will, but his cake recipe in the Sunday Times three weeks ago caught my eye…


Those 57.5g of sugar per slice amount to 14 teaspoons of sugar.* For the sake of comparison, a can of Coke contains nine teaspoons and the World Health Organisation recommends that people consume no more than 12 teaspoons per day. Pukka!

So, Jamie Oliver literally pours sugar into his recipes and yet grandstands against sugar.

Never mind; it won’t stop some pimping Jamie Oliver’s pro-sugar-tax views here in NZ. Makes you wonder what they say about his cake recipes, or are they all right?


THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • Abjv

    In that cake recipe, the sugar has been diluted 2:1 with fat, so that makes it ok.

    • Grizz30

      You should take your carbohydrate with protein or with loads of fibre. Sugar with fat is lethal in obesity terms. It masks the full feeling that fat alone will give you so you keep eating.

  • Second time around

    The UK sugar tax is doomed because it is all posturing. If the tax succeeded no money would be collected and yet people would still consume exactly the same amount of sugar calories. But the tax is justified by saying that it will be used for playgrounds to encourage physical activity. If anyone was serious they would build the playgrounds immediately, using a low interest loan, and then pay the loan back with the savings from the improved health of the nation.

  • Goldie

    I actually watched the ‘Jamie’s Sugar Rush’ program the other night (it was on after watching something else). Now I don’t believe that taxes by themselves will do anything to help. But his theory was that the money raised would be used to educate people on the dangers of too much sugar consumption in general. He showed examples of the growing problems of obesity, rotting teeth (which happens no matter how well you brush your teeth), and type 2 Diabetes (potentially leading to amputation of toes and feet) in kids in Britain (he also went to Mexico where the problems are much worse). Although sugary fizzy drinks are not the only cause of these problems, they do play a significant part, especially when some kids drink litres of them on a daily basis. Of course, the parents should be controlling their kids diet better, but often the parents just don’t know about good dietary practices (sad but true).
    So now I’m in two minds about all this. If the tax was actually used for meaningful education, then it might be a good thing (although the government could also provide that education with money from the general tax take).

    • Spiker

      It should come from the general tax tax. Why should just drinks have a tax on them? All products containing sugar should have the tax applied proportionally if that how they want to raise money for education on sugar consumption.

      • Goldie

        I agree. I think picking on sugary fizzy drinks was an easy target, and the proposed 10% tax would have little effect on the consumer, but could bring in enough money to provide some useful education. To target sugar in general you’d have to have an excise tax on all raw or refined sugar to be efficient.

    • Grizz30

      Coke will have to collect the tax and pay the government. Chances are they will spread the cost over their entire product range so there will be no price difference between sugar sweetened and artificially sweetened products.

      • Goldie

        Quite probably, but the purpose of the tax is to provide money for education. Where that money ultimately comes from is of no consequence

    • Doug

      I just have one question…. It has been well known for many years that sugar is bad for your teeth, and that soft drinks and the like are full of sugar. What makes people think that education is going to help anything here? It is not as if healthy food is some esoteric subject that regular people have never had a chance to be taught.

      • Goldie

        You and I might know that, but there is obviously a problem (that seems to be getting worse), and so either some parents (and kids) don’t know, or don’t care. The only solution is to try to drum it into them. Either that or we leave them to it and then pay the health bills (through tax) down the line.

        • Doug

          If they don’t know it by now, they will never know it. So it must be they do not care. You have missed out a few solutions, these I suspect over time the world may need to take. If we looked at the worst culprits for giving children under the age of 5 soft drinks, what type of people would we see? Would we see productive members of society, unemployed, or something else?
          If we found a certain sub section of society was the main culprit, would we see them as the problem with other statistics that lead to poor outcomes later in life for their children?

          • Goldie

            You may very well be able to pin it down to particular socio-economic group (generally). But knowing what group they are doesn’t necessarily provide a solution (that would be palatable to the general public)?

          • Doug

            By knowing your target group, at the very worst you can target your marketing/education campaign to make it more cost effective. Ideally for me there would be a more extreme solution, but then I am a greenie that thinks the world could happily lose a few billion people, so I would be happy with ideas the general public would not be happy with

    • localnews

      We already provide education through our taxes for every child in New Zealand. If Jamie wants education shouldn’t he be lobbying to include it in the circulum? Maybe it could be an NCEA subject. It should not take 30minutes and provide another easy credit

  • Bud

    A sugar tax has about as much chance of stopping obesity and diabetes as a carbon tax has at altering the earths climate…

  • Vutekno

    Jamie seems to be heading down the same lost trail as our own precious Gareth Morgan, first food in schools, breast feeding and now sugar tax. When will he get on to Cats?

    Soda tax in his restaurants! Good luck with that one Jamie!

  • Grizz30

    It’s worse than his cake. I just watched a YouTube video of Jamie making porridge. Healthy you might say, but not after Jamie covered it with teaspoons of brown sugar, golden syrup and sugary jam.

    What is the point of taxing soft drink when you promote liberal lashings of sugar in other foods you promote.

    • Bud

      The point is revenue.