‘Health by stealth’: the most insulting nanny‑state plan yet

In recent weeks, chocolate-bar producers have announced that many household favourites – including KitKat, Dairy Milk and Mars – are set to become smaller. And while some manufacturers have blamed rising costs as a result of the Brexit vote, Public Health England’s (PHE) ‘health by stealth’ strategy, aimed at cutting the amount of sugar the British public consumes, is what’s really behind our shrinking snacks.

PHE has published guidelines challenging producers to cut sugar content by 20 per cent by 2020. It suggests lowering sugar levels, reducing product size and pushing healthier alternatives. And, no doubt fearing further regulation, companies are taking heed. In order to maintain the taste and texture of their products, without resorting to artificial sweeteners, companies are opting for smaller portions.

There’s something incredibly insidious about this plan. Not only were these new guidelines introduced without the public having a say, they represent a raising of the stakes in the war on our lifestyles. Not content with trying to price us out of buying unhealthy snacks, PHE is leaning on the food industry to reformulate them out of existence.

Though we’ve come to expect this kind of behaviour from PHE, this plan still begs the question: why do these people think they have the right to dictate what we should and should’t eat? If people choose to over-eat, or prefer sugary snacks to salad, who are these busybodies to tell them to do otherwise? Once again, PHE has demonstrated its utter contempt for the public.

If people want to gorge themselves on unhealthy snacks, that’s their free choice. While issued in the name of stopping people from eating themselves ill, these guidelines are really an affront to all of us. Suggesting that we have to be tricked into eating less sugar is deeply insulting. We should all tell PHE that we’ll eat whatever the hell we want.

Benedict Spence is a writer based in London.

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