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Saturday, 26 March 2016

Hypo Tax got me like....

I have been busily documenting my recent trip overseas, so please excuse my absence. I'm about halfway through that, and it's taking me a really long time. So I took a break from here.

This is relevant to my trip overseas, I promise.

The UK recently introduced a Soft Drink Tax, to come in to effect in 2018. Drinks that have more than 8gm of sugar per 100ml will be taxed at a higher amount. I'm just going to put it out there that I struggled in the UK to find adequate hypo treatment. Everything already has reduced sugar over there. I spent time way too much time when I was hypo desperately reading the labels of drinks trying to find something that was of a high enough quick acting sugar percent to bring my BGLs back up to a safe number. When normally in Australia I can drink 1/4 of a bottle of sprite to treat a hypo, in the UK I was having to guzzle half or a full bottle to treat a hypo because of the reduced sugar. Extra calories I didn't need, and it left me feeling really seedy, because I don't normally drink much soft drink.

The other point to to make is - I don't think that a soft drink tax is going to do jack for the UK, when a sample standard diet includes fish, chips, pies, clotted cream, beer, pasties, salt on everything and anything else you can name that will clog your arteries. Jamie Oliver is one of those that pushed heavily for the sugar tax and I did have the misfortune to eat in one of his restaurants. No surprise that the healthiest thing on the menu was a fatty pork burger. You did have the option to change the chips for salad - if you paid extra. But we already knew that Jamie Oliver is very hypocritical when it comes to healthy eating, so no surprise there.

So Australia has recently decided they would like to jump on the cave-man 'sugar bad' trend and is looking at introducing a similar tax. I'm disappointed. I'm sick of the sugar fear mongering that goes on. The more we talk about sugar in these terms, the harder it is for the public to truly understand diabetes and how it actually all works. The message about 'sugar bad' gets through all right - but only enough for everybody ever to question why I'm having sugar if I have diabetes, because that's what they're told it gives you. If I already have diabetes, I'm not sure what they think telling me 'sugar bad' is going to achieve; maybe if I don't drink sugary drinks it will stop me from getting some extra diabetes on top of my diabetes?

The 'sugar bad' fear messages only serve to instill in the senseless public that people with diabetes chose this disease. It encourages hate towards us, as a by-product of the fear they feel when they do a mental calculation of how much soft drink they have consumed and have conculded that they have put themselves at risk of Type 2 Diabetes. It encourages poor diets (such as that god-awful Paleo diet that people crap on about) in wrong-footed attempts to 'undo' all the sugar they have consumed in their life. 

Sugar saves my life, on an almost daily basis. I don't think it's fair to tax that, or disillusion the public about the role that sugar plays in helping me to control my BGLs, and more importantly, stay alive. 

Currently sugary drinks are the best and cheapest means I have to treat a hypo. Drinks are often the best way to treat a hypo because simply swallowing when you're in the brain fog of a hypo is much easier than chewing and then swallowing. 

Whilst the tax may be aimed at the drink companies, they are more than likely to pass this on to consumers, or start to make products with less sugar (and thereby less effective in raising BGLs to safe levels). A 2L Coles lemonade costs little more than a dollar and can be used for about 10 hypos. Similarly, a 6 pack of poppers is only a few dollars, coming in at something like 50c per hypo. Glucose tablets on the other hand, whilst they are great to keep in my handbag, cost a small fortune. If you go by the way of Amazon, you can get the bottles of 50 pretty cheap, but be prepared to offer up your first born to pay for shipping. Even buying the True Plus brand available in Australia is obscenely expensive. A pack of 50 costs $15 and will treat approximately 12 hypos. This is more than $1 per hypo, when a Coles Lemonade is less than $2 for 10 hypos. 

It should be the aim of the diabetes bodies in Australia to protect the interests of those with diabetes first. Which means that if they want to support this sort of sugar-hate (and in turn diabetes-hate) movement, they need to have a strategy for education about how sugar works so that I can stop being harrased by the know-it-all who sees my medic-alert tag as I save my life with a Sprite. Importantly, they need to be ensuring that we will continue to have fairly-priced access to hypo treatments. 

Add to this that we can't nanny everybody. At some point, you have got to realise that people are free to make their own unhealthy choices. Education about food needs to be introduced earlier to children so they can make the correct choices to look after their bodies. I understand that we would like to decrease the rates of type 2 diabetes, but the people who get Type 2 Diabetes from lifestyle aren't just drinking soft drink. There's so many more factors to Type 2 Diabetes than a like for soft-drinks. You need to be looking at increasing exercise rates, reducing portion sizes, educating about healthy food choices. They've also been making those choices for a very long time, and probably won't stop with a price increase.

And honestly? While Macca's, KFC, chips and other fatty, salty and calorie-laden fast foods are around, we don't have a hope on curbing obesity rates by introducing a simple sugary-drink tax. Extend the tax to them and maybe we can start talking about potential nation-wide health benefits.

Until you do that, I spend enough on my healthcare already, don't make me add 'hypos' to the list of reasons I will probably never own a house.


  1. Wow- so well said. I used to have this issue in high school. They stopped selling coke at the canteen.
    Yet they supplied massive chocolate chip cookies.
    Right, so much logic...

    Don't even get me started with Jamie!

    1. I don't know if there's anyone I dislike more than Jamie Oliver when it comes to idiots who have connected themselves to diabetes. Glassman of Crossfit is at least an honest all-out asshole, but Jamie pretends to be on our side.

      Our high school did the same. Luckily I was not diabetic then. We didnt sell soft drinks but hot dogs and sausage rolls were fine :S