Anti-sugar troughers desperate for attention


Yesterday we saw Radio New Zealand run the headline ?Sugar hit is no GDP sweetener? and the usual use of alarming statistics to try and scare politicians into supporting a sugar tax/fat tax.

According to a report from Morgan Stanley ?high sugar consumption is set to slash New Zealand?s future economic growth by more than 20% over 20 years?.

They also trotted out the other alarming pearl that ?when it comes to waistlines, New Zealand?is the third fattest country in the developed world?.

The qualifier of course is to say ?in the developed world?, so no mention of our Pacific neighbours who would send New Zealand?s obesity ranking tumbling down the list. Country comparisons is like matching apples with walnuts. ??

Not surprisingly the usual troughers were wheeled out to comment.

You can never under-estimate a trougher. Troughers over the years have learned a thing or two from the war against Big Tobacco, and are now using similar tactics against ‘Big Food’.

So when stories like this spring up, all it takes is a little looking around to find out what?s really going on.

There?s my good friend and 2013 Trougher of the Year Boyd Swinburn. As usual Boyd is lobbying for sugar taxes and other restrictions. ?But look a little deeper.

See there?s a little trougher conference coming up which they needed to drum up support for – the?Agencies for Nutrition Action?s 6th National Nutrition and Physical Activity Conference.

The Agencies for Nutrition Action or ANA, which tucks into over $300,000 per year of taxpayer funding from the Ministry of Health? have listed their generous sponsors.

Well blow me down, more troughers helping their troughing mates. Let?s look at just one of them ? 5+ A Day.

5+A Day is run as a Charitable Trust so pays no taxes. It?s run by Paula Dudley, who just by sheer chance is also taxpayer funded by the Ministry of Health to the tune of $285,000 per year.

Paula Dudley also happens to be the General Manager of United Fresh New Zealand Incorporated which happens to hoover through a whopping $6.6 million per year in taxpayer funding.

Then you look at the ?draft?? ANA conference programme and speaker line-up.

Aside from my good friend Boyd Swinburn, there?s Otago University?s Lisa Te Morenga speaking to the topic ?What?s the story: Why is sugar STILL a hot topic??

There?s another University of Otago trougher Louise Signal taking about ?Fat Tax and All That: The pros and cons of taxing foods?.

Essentially the ANA conference trougher fest is just another forum for the same people to speak to the same people and call for more research funding.

And the list goes on. In fact it?s a list that will keep on giving.