Barnaby Joyce and Nationals’ sugar stance doesn’t pass pub test | Editorial

INSTEAD of taxing sugary drinks to reduce obesity, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has a much better solution – “stop eating so much and do a bit of exercise”.

Mr Joyce was backed by Assistant Minister for Rural Health and fellow National MP, David Gillespie, who practised medicine for 33 years.

Mr Gillespie said the best way to beat obesity was to get on the ELF diet and the DME program – that is Eat Less Food and Do More Exercise.

While the good doctor has a point, he’s overlooking how difficult many people find it to motivate themselves to live a healthy lifestyle, as well as the research showing sugar has many addictive qualities.

Let’s apply the logic of Mr Joyce and Mr Gillespie to cigarettes.

Instead of taxing cigarettes, people who smoke should either show some willpower and stop smoking, or exercise more to counteract the negative effects smoking has on their body.

It just wouldn’t pass the pub test – even in the pub’s smoko room.

Mr Joyce, who by his own admission, has “a bunger every now and then”, said taxing cigarettes was a “completely different argument, because cigarettes will kill you”.

Unfortunately for millions of Australians, obesity will also kill you – and yes, sugar is not the only cause of obesity but there is an intrinsic link between sugar intake and weight gain.

It’s common knowledge that being overweight or obese increases a person's risk of developing long-term health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. 

In its latest guidelines, the National Health and Medical Research Council recommends we limit our consumption of “foods and drinks containing added sugars such as confectionery, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, energy and sports drinks”.

There’s an argument to be had that the Nationals’ stance has nothing to do with health or facts, and everything to do with the party’s strong core of sugar cane-growing voters in northern NSW and southern Queensland.

Denying a wide held belief of industry experts for political purposes is something we should all be familiar with in this day and age (climate change anyone?).

So who do we listen to for health advice? The Nationals or the health experts?

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