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    • The United Kingdom is on the verge of putting forth laws that restrict how supermarkets can sell and market chocolate, soda, and other unhealthy sugared foods. The laws would not apply to stores that are smaller than 2,000 square feet and/or are specialist retailers. If passed, the laws would go into effect by April 2022. 

      While it’s good to get people to eat healthily, should the government have a right to tell supermarkets how they can market such products? Is this crossing any sort of ethical line or is this a case where the ends justify the means? The end goal is easy to justify on moral grounds. But it’s the means by which the goal is being accomplished that is sketchy in my book. Thoughts? 

    • It's a complex issue for sure, and an uphill battle. It's so easy to eat unhealthily for a number of reasons - cost, accessibility, convenience etc. Controlling advertising might not affect adults as much as it would kids, since adults are already set in their ways. The only thing that will likely get adults to change their ways is if they get some bad news about their health after a trip to the doctor.

    • Businesses (to be clear, corporations) are legal entities wholly created and sanctioned by Government. They have no rights (or should not), and the Government is (or should be) free to set any terms they want.

      If the People don't like what they're doing, they can vote in new lawmakers.

    • There are at least two questions here: Is it within the government's rights to make these changes, and are these the right changes to make?

      The first question brings to mind the institution of seat belt laws. I enjoyed this brief history lesson about mandatory seat belt laws in the US: https://www.history.com/news/seat-belt-laws-resistance . I'm more familiar with US law than law in the UK, and it is often striking how differently we view issues of individual rights than other countries. Case in point: There is still no adult seat belt law in New Hampshire.

      My recollection was that there were a lot of angry people who felt that their individual rights were being infringed upon, but my personal feeling was that it was in the interest of the public good. When you don't wear a seatbelt (which is a choice clearly associated with more morbidity and mortality in car accidents), you're relying more on emergency personnel, other people's insurance, your own health insurance, etc. to compensate for your choice. It also impacts the children within your car(e). You're willfully engaging in risky behavior, and it comes with consequences.

      There are also parallels with wearing masks. Those who are committed to their own right to not wear a mask are increasing public health risk for others, especially the vulnerable. Again, it is one thing for an adult to consciously choose to increase their own risk, but to inflict that on others is another thing entirely.

      I don't believe these personal freedoms are guaranteed by the US constitution, nor should they be. I'm all in favor of self-governance, and the government's role includes promoting the general welfare. If we are individually not governing our own choices (only 17% of people were wearing seatbelts after they were universally available in cars), elected officials can create legislation that promotes the common good.

      Now, is the consumption of sugary food and drinks an issue pertaining to an individual's rights only? I would say no, particularly in a country with state-funded universal healthcare like the UK. Your choice to over-consume unhealthy food, and hence over-consume healthcare resources has a direct financial and indirect health impact on others.

      The second question is will this be effective? My reading of the US Supreme Court ruling on seatbelts was that the evidence of public safety impact was indisputable, so the federal government was compelled to act accordingly. Do we have clear evidence of the devastating health impacts of the consumption of this type of food? Absolutely.

      This particular approach seems like a good first step to me. Our cues as habit-driven beings are often visual and/or irrational. When we see the familiar packaging as we head to the checkout, or when we see the sale signs, it absolutely impacts our behavior and leads us to make different purchasing decisions. This move puts the onus on food and drink companies to pivot their product lines to promote better public health. I applaud that.

    • I think everyone has seen films and documentaries how in America the food corporations drive profit by all means, quite frequently accompanying unhealthy aliments and beverages with aggressive, covert advertising campaigns. One reason so many Americans are getting less and less healthy is exactly the inaction of government in that regard, and that I have a feeling is related to whom the campaign money is lobbying. It's a vicious circle, but my perception is that for sure in today's society is nigh nearly impossible to obtain accurate, unbiased advice, when it comes to health of nutrition.

    • One thing I will say in favor of these laws and @amacbean16’s position is that corporate companies that manufacture sugary drinks and unhealthy processed foods is that they are not thinking about the health of the customer/consumer at all. It’s all about the Benjamins as they say or I guess in the case of Britain it’s all about the Illays. LOL 😂


      Anyhow, just like how there has been a check on tobacco for the harm it can do to others, no reason why the same type of approach can’t be done for unhealthy foods. If the manufacturers aren’t gonna look out for the consumer’s health and well being, who else but the government will?

    • That's my understanding of one of the principal roles the Government is there for, to look for it's citizen's and society welfare. Not just to collect tax. How well that translates into reality may differ from year to year, as we've seen.

    • That's my understanding of one of the principal roles the Government is there for, to look for it's citizen's and society welfare. Not just to collect tax. How well that translates into reality may differ from year to year, as we've seen.

      What it means to look after its citizen's and society welfare depends on one's ideology. Many people forget this and just assume anyone who doesn't value the same things they value must be evil.

    • By welfare I referred to fundamental needs, maybe I should have used another term. Many are quick to point to stuff such as the UK health care for example, as "free stuff" and view it as some scary hand in their personal pockets to pay for lazy bums. But they forget nothing is truly free. It's just administered in different ways, but still based on tax everyone is paying most of the time. What insurance does here is collect premiums and then pay out doctors, while negotiating to the edge prices, moreover approving or rejecting patent's treatments they deem "covered". It's all for profit, because at any given time there are way more healthy individuals paying into the pool, than sick ones needing care. All the while everyone is paying taxes into the system which truly get used however politicians see fit and not in people's interest all the time. In a public health system the middle man profitor is eliminated and assistance is provided based on established criteria rather than profit foremost. A society plagued by extremes in status quo in it's essential aspects, is not truly healthy on any aspects.

    • The UK didn't have universal healthcare until 1948. Does that mean they weren't looking out for the welfare of their people before then?

      Since 1948, how much has the UK depended on the United States for their healthcare advancements, such as drug development, medical devices, techniques, and other advances? How much are US citizens subsidizing drug costs in the UK today?

      How did the UK citizenry do during the decades when the politicians cut spending on healthcare? Was there any choice or alternative they could use to be self sufficient, or were their lives entirely at the discretion of the politicians?

      I'm not advocating against universal healthcare, I'm saying that those who think overall the US and perhaps the world would be better by improving the system we have are not inherently evil.

    • Intriguing questions, I don't have answers for, yet why would you say UK depended or depends on US for healthcare, or subsidising costs?

      I am curious also why you say that a universal, government health care be reason for anyone to seek being "self sufficient". What do you mean by self sufficient in this regard?

      The way I see it, if someone paid decades to health insurance they never really used, but then got booted from their job and lost coverage, they could have a heart attack and not be covered thus be liable for price of their house on procedures and hospitalization. How is that better than a uniform, public health policy funded with (perhaps increased) tax money. Plenty countries have both systems, average Joe can get all his essential and emergency health care needs taken care of, but if Joe is a rich dude who wants a face lift he can buy even better medical assistance.

      Personally I avoid using doctors unless I really need them, the fact that the big Pharma is luring them into prescribing this and that drug is enough reason for me.

    • It would be better for you to research the topic rather than I just provide superficial answers. As I wrote before, my point is not to argue the merits or otherwise of universal healthcare. Only to point out that good people can disagree on what it means to take care of citizen's and society's welfare.

    • Hi @amacbean16 We've not met, but I feel like I know you via @Chris comments and pictures of his family members. 

      I read your very thoughtful post above carefully. Clearly stated and argued. Your genuine concern for folk's health is quite apparent.

      I do have a few concerns about the legislation you mentioned being promoted in the UK.

      How can we argue that a sucrose, fructose, or HFC sweetened beverage is more dangerous to the public than whiskey or tobacco products? I submit they are not even close to the harm caused by alcohol and tobacco, and other assorted legal ( in some states or provinces ) intoxicants. Alcoholism, motor vehicle deaths, lung cancer, liver cancer - early death rates in general - to just name some of the results of the use of alcohol or tobacco or both,

      We, as societies, do not allow children to purchase alcohol or tobacco, because of the risks entailed, so perhaps the sweetened beverages, and food products might be curtailed by age of purchaser, while not affecting adult's behaviour. But of course, that is the purpose of the legislation in the UK, to diminish the purchase of some specific goods, that are otherwise legal goods, by adults, not just children.

      However, both the US and UK governments, or their Provinces, do allow law abiding adults to consume alcohol almost ad lib, and to smoke tobacco freely, as long as they, the users, don't impose their risks on other folks - too closely. I am not saying I approve of this behaviour, by the imbibers, just that is current law. Theoretically, folks don't drive when intoxicated, nor smoke in enclosed public buildings. Even though we know both of those legal fictions are not entirely accurate statements. 

      We ( American citizens ) found that Prohibition carried a number of negative side effects beyond the removal of alcohol from the public's consumption when we tried Prohibition, and ultimately retracted it. Poorly fabricated laws frequently entail unexpected consequences, as did Prohibition, a law passed with the best of intentions, one might be led to believe..

      I am specifically interested in your thoughts about how society can manage sweetened food or beverage consumption, when it does not seem to be able to limit very much, alcohol and tobacco consumption. By the logic of your statement above, clearly, tobacco and alcohol usage should also be illegal, or severely controlled. But I think we both know that is highly unlikely in a democracy at this time. Just suggesting closing all pubs in the UK, and you would have riots in the streets, and the Scots would seceede for certain..

      If governments, properly, can limit consumption of sugar, or fat, perfectly legal substances consumed by almost all humans, then where does government's ability to limit the activity of free citizens stop? I am told there is no bill of rights in the UK.....

      People ski down mountains, ride motorcycles, climb mountains, jump out of perfectly operating air planes, drive racing cars, swim 150 feet beneath the ocean's surface and a great many other potentially dangerous activities, simply, because they want to, and are legally free free to, in certain limited venues and times. Even if they require rescue or medical care as a result of their activities. A distant aquaintance of mine used to run the helicopter mountain rescue service in the Grand Tetons, and he occasionally ruminated over losing rescuers because novices made foolish choices in climbing mountains during storms, thereby putting airborne rescuer's lives dangerously at risk. Some of his rescuers did die as a result of those kinds of issues.

      I will state that I always wear my seat belt, always drive what I believe is a safe, and prudent, speed for the current traffic conditions I am operating in, gave up tobacco over 40 years ago, have not been intoxicated in 50 years, and try to eat a modest Mediterranean diet. ( I may sound boring here.. ) But I do eat some chocolate from time to time and I like it, in moderation. And a solitary glass of wine with dinner once a month does not seem likely to kill me.

      So I am no saint. I spent many long days in the saddles of motorcycles, flying airplanes, skiing down a few mountains, and under water diving in the Grear Lakes and Caribbean Sea, So I have enjoyed exploring modest risky behaviour along the way too. Fortunately, through a bit of luck and applied caution, I required no medical care or services as result of these youthful explorations of risk. Including a high side off a motorcycle at about 50 mph after a dog had the audacity to slam directly into my front wheel at full out speed, one afternoon many years ago. The dog did not survive, but I did.

      I would also point out that when folks discuss sugary beverages many folks think of Coca-Cola or Pepsi, or something similar - but the beverages with the highest sugar contents are frequently "fruit" juices, many "artisan" teas or coffees, and other beverages hiding on the shelf, even at Starbucks. I actually read the lables, before consuming a new beveridge.

      I am certain you know this too. But I have doubts that the general public is as aware of this. 

      With regard to seatbelt laws, is it illegal to forego wearing a seatbelt if you are driving your own private vehicle on your own property on your own roadway surface and there are no other public vehicles allowed on your private roadway? Or is it not the use of the public roadway, not the driving, that is the basis for requiring a seatbelt?

      Now I know that most of us don't own our own roads, but some ranchers in Wyoming or Texas, or farmers in Iowa or Kansas might allow that they do that, often, might they? 

      The restriction of citizens freedom by governments, no matter how well intentioned, does very frequently seem to bear unintended consequences. We, as a society, should endeavor to elucidate those unintended consequences very carefully before we pass any laws restricting free, law abiding citizens activities, shouldn't we? 

      Do we pass laws merely to make ourselves feel better, more virtuous, or to actually effect real measureable changes in outcomes in society? 

      I share your feeling that people who refuse to wear masks in a pandemic, are expressing their disdain about the safety of their fellow citizens. But who are we going to ask to be the mask police? There have been several employees severely injured, or even killed, by people who were asked to wear their masks in a store. So where are our mask police as a society? Are we going to need lolly pop police too? Federal sugar police, or is this a state matter?

      Could we, perhaps, achieve similar measureable improvements in adult nutrition, without legal sanctions and their unintended consequences, with education and public service messaging?

      I do not know the actual correct answer to this question, but I am pretty certain the factual answer can be ascertained, not merely speculated about. I suspect the answer may be a bit of "it all depends".  How much education, how much public messaging, etc. Are these sorts of nutrition laws really a Federal issue or a local one?

      A limitation of sweetened beveridge size was tried briefly in New York City, but I am not certain whether they are still in effect. No, they were struck down by a New York State Supreme Court ruling

      Again, I ask these questions carefully, calmly, and with sincere desire for thoughtful answers. 

      Thank you, and I look forward to reading your responses.

    • Haha, I unfortunately have been exposed way too much from both sides, to the topics of government versus private enterprise, when it comes to critical, essential services such as medical assistance. The term Health Care is a joke in this context. From one side they'll advocate overreach while the other continues to poison it's clientele with unhealthy products. There are no 'good people' in the business world. Can't trust nobody when the game is rigged.

    • Great thoughts and questions. Thanks for taking the time. I'm often enlightened by your responses here on Cake!

      You've brought in some interesting historical examples with the prohibition on alcohol in the US and also the soda ban in New York.

      Just to clarify, I'm not advocating for the banning of anything, rather I'm acknowledging that the government already regulates marketing of products and their advertising claims. I believe that this oversight can and should apply to grocery store placement and promotions as well.

      You can't take soda and label it "healthy" or "may reduce risk of heart disease" but you can put it right in the checkout aisle at the level of kids and say "Buy One Get One Free!" Cigarettes are locked up, not in easy reach, and have had "plain packaging" to reduce the impact of branding.

      Of course stores will still sell soda and candy (and alcohol and cigarettes), and people will still buy them. But if we can make it easier for people to make healthier choices, I'm all for it.

    • Thank you for your response. I thought the UK wanted to make several foods and beveridges much more difficult for legal age adults to purchase, in larger sizes. Perhaps I misunderstood.

      Like you, I, fully, approve of encouraging healthier purchasing choices, and the legal restriction of children from purchasing many items including, but not limited to, - alcohol, tobacco, sugar laden food and drinks, most over the counter and prescription drugs, ammunition, etc.

      I do absolutely fully approve of governmental regulation of food and drugs to insure their safety, and cleanliness during and after harvesting and packaging, and for their contents to be accurately and fully described in simple language, capable of being understood by most adults.

      I am all for folks making healthier choices, but I have my doubts that all of the public are really interested in having someone else make those choices for them, beyond insuring that food is clean, clearly matches the labelling on the package, and is reasonably believed as safe to consume by many people. This would encompass sugary foods and drinks, alcohol - beer, wine, distilled product etc - tobacco and inhaled drugs like nicotine or others that may be marketed, as well as cannabis derived products. I have no interest in most of these items, but many folks, obviously, do.

      I do have a strong belief that we - the people - need far more close monitoring of what, exactly, is in most of our generic drugs that many of us receive via prescription, but that are often made overseas, under very strong price competition, in India, China, and Mexico.

      We should not have to be concerned about carcinogens in generic medications, but there have been enough recalls due to serious contamination, that that concern does seem warranted at times.

      Once again, Thank you for taking the time to respond, I suspect I have more free time as a retiree than a young mother.

      I have been told that if one rides a motorcycle, in Germany - The German Federal DOT legally requires an operator's license AND DOT approved riding apparel - jacket, riding pants, helmet with face shield, gloves etc - Otherwise, if one is injured in an accident, without proper DOT approved riding apparel, one has no German state approved health insurance coverage. Thus the consequences of a poor choice are not subsidized by the state health service.

      Is the day coming in America, when similar health choices might be arbitrated by the state as a price for a single payer plan?

    • They should first consider putting a stop to unhealthy food advertisements. Then they could move onto imposing further laws prohibiting any promotional sale of these items. It is somewhat of a sensitive topic where an unhealthy food a beverage for one is the norm for the other.

    • Well it is a tricky and complex problem. The unhealthy eating habits contribute to the health condition and it increases the expense on the treatment. As well it happens to be that crappy food is more accessible because of the price. Health education is not working very well and sometimes some laws can help. And of course many other points. But personally I am so much about everything that in some point makes business and people choose the healthier way even sadly sometimes it is just because of the law.