If we are going to call in CYFs for obese children – when will we tax sugar?



It’s funny isn’t it? When there is any hint of Government intervention into the lives of those with privilege it becomes screams of ‘nanny state’ and ‘political correctness gone mad’, but when it is aimed at the poorest and weakest within society, it passes with silent approval.

Personal responsibility becomes the catch cry of those who want to limit that intervention to those they deem morally deserving of punishment.

The latest idea to get CYFs to take obese children off their parents is an extreme level of state intervention, yet it’s being considered. Rather than focus on corporate responsibility, and demand those fast food and big sugar industries cop a tax and limit their advertising ability, the focus is on punishing the families of those who are obese.

Seeing as obesity is increasingly a poverty issue, allowing the State another tool to punish the poor seems social cruelty as opposed to beneficial policy.

We have a serious health issue when it comes to obesity, but to target the victims of it rather than the pushers is moralistic judgemental bullshit that if aimed at any other sector of society would be decried.



  1. Taking aim at sugar consumption is only addressing a small part problem. ALL fast carbohydrates are to blame for the global obesity/diabetes epidemic. I’m not sure why pundits focus only on one specific carb when factually just two slices of white bread will spike your blood glucose level in 30 minutes by the SAME amount as downing SIX teaspoons of straight sugar (you can test this for yourself with a cheap glucometer you can buy on eBay for $40 or so). It’s a very dirty secret in the food industry, but labeling solely sugar as the bogeyman while completely ignoring starches (potatoes), pasta, bread, cereals, rice, flour etc, is more than a little disingenuous.
    Given the propensity of carbohydrates (not just sugar) in our foods, the obesity epidemic will only be addressed once people demand/make changes to the near entirety of their current eating habits; a general carbohydrate tax is going to be unworkable, given that carbs are the foundation of just about everything we eat not to mention the cost of the alternatives.
    Here are some links that will change the way you look at food:

    • I just want to add a small note to what I wrote above. People need to understand that just because it doesn’t taste sweet, doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t functionally sugar. Starches (potatoes), pasta, bread, cereals, rice, flour etc are MADE of complex sugars (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbohydrate) that your body very quickly (unless it’s whole grains) breaks down into simple sugars, i.e. metabolically there is preciously little difference between eating bread/potatoes/pasta/rice or eating straight sugar as far as your body is concerned. I can’t stress enough that targeting sugar specifically and ignoring carbohydrates generally is NOT going to give tangible results with regards to addressing the global obesity/diabetes epidemic. The food pyramid as we currently know it is a complete scam that has been foisted upon an unsuspecting public… and it’s killing us en masse.

      • NITRIUM;

        To support your links and clarify a few things that many people
        may find confusing.

        Two of your links say saturated fats ARE GOOD for you and
        this is the opposite of what we are still being told by our MSM.

        In fact TV1 a few months ago announced that coconut oil is
        not good because it’s high in saturated fat and vegetable oils
        are good for you; much the same as TV3 had said about fluoride after the Hamilton debacle.

        Both those statements by MSM are simply not true.
        ie the opposite is true and the research has been done as stated in the links below.

        Even the WHO has changed it’s mind about saturated fats.
        They are essential for good health and fluoride has never
        been approved by the FDA or WHO. (only 7 countries left)

        High fructose corn syrup is the main toxic ingredient in our food and drink because it comes from GMO corn.(glysophate)
        Aspartame (or changed name) ie artificial sweeteners are in
        diet drinks and other know toxins permeate our food chain.

        One of the mechanisms that may not be clear as to why we
        get fat consuming these toxins can be explained by this;

        Many people know that when we consume cannabis we get
        the munchies.
        This is because of the bodies natural defence mechanism to
        remove potentially harmful substances from the bloodstream.
        ie The body starts laying down fat to remove them and why
        you may be dry in the mouth because water is required to do
        so.(and visa-versa)
        And so the same applies to the any toxins in the food supply.

        And to MARTYN;

        This ideology of blaming parents(and others) and to move to
        take children away from family is very insidious indeed.
        I believe it is more advanced in UK and USA.
        (non vaccination as well. ie right of refusal)

        It is quite clear who to blame – the manufacturers, as
        Dr Mercola will tell you and all advertising should be banned or
        at least around kids programs, same as alcohol and tobacco.
        We should all stand up and push back hard against any of this

        Here are the researched facts and urge everyone to take the
        time necessary to understand what’s at stake.
        (note the meme of children dying before their parents has already been planted. The ‘powers that be’ already know.)




        In fact those that eat high amounts of saturated fats will
        shed weight naturally.ie Grass fed red meat,butter,dairy products,cheese and as many eggs as you like.


        We should all consult http://www.mercola.com on a regular basis
        for the continued health of our friends and family.
        The top health site, global independent rating.


        PS:The profits of the fast food chains are steadily declining
        along with Monsanto as the world wakes up.
        Doesn’t take much to work out.

  2. The cheap availability of processed and fast foods contributes to the problem of obesity.

    Education on the benefits of consuming good nutritional food, making fresh food cheaper to buy, might go some way towards addressing this issue.

    Also educating people, in particular parents and youth in learning to grow and produce their own fresh food through gardening, or growing food in containers or pots etc if no garden is available. This could be introduced through the school curriculum, as well as learning to cook. It could also be part of the adult Community Education programme, with encouragement for parents to attend. Parents of these children need help with their lifestyle decisions, not bullying! In many cases, I’d say they do their best with the little means they have available to them.

    While acknowledging obesity is a problem, what bothers me here with government interference in the lives of mainly impoverished families is the fact it’s heading towards totalitarianism, bordering on state fascism!

    This whole issue is disturbing, because who or what is going to monitor the activities of CYFs here? It hasn’t exactly got a good track record of doing the right thing by children!

    There are positive alternatives of getting around the problem of obesity, through education. There is no place for state bullying and that’s what this comes down to!

  3. How will removing children help them?
    Put them on a diet? Diets are notoriously ineffective.
    Someone with expertise in physiology might elaborate but I suspect that many on-going and underlying causes of obesity are established early in life – the laying down in tissue of certain types of fat cells etc.
    Viewed in this light removing children can only be regarded as ineffective and is essentially a punishment.

    • Agree with your reasoning, such as it is.

      But this point misses the major impact that removing a child has on that child’s wellbeing. Many CYFS wards suffer long-term emotional and psychological damage from being in the state system.

      I firmly believe this impact dwarfs any (as yet unproven) positive impact regarding BMI.

      We have become a nation of bullies and thugs if we even consider that this issue should be discussed.

      • There is no arguing with the damage that you cite Molly, but it doesn’t answer question as to what they hope to achieve by removing a child by reason of obesity.

        • Richard, I’m thinking we are both in agreement on this.

          Unfortunately, replied to your comment, but the first sentence referenced the whole discussion. My error.

  4. Making fruit and vegetables cheaper ( remove GST ) would be a better start. Education and banning sugary drinks at school, also.
    There are a lot of pro active ways to curb obesity. Getting CYFs involved is not one of them.
    Understanding that the ‘processed food’ industry is not really interested in people’s health, or nutrition – only the money that can be made – was a big part of changing how I looked at food. A good motto ‘ the fresher, the rawer, the better.’ – and always buy NZ produce when you can.

  5. Love the cartoon.

    I was reading a blog recently talking about a book by Thomas Sowell called The Vision of the Anointed. I didn’t agree with all of it because it does have a right wing slant, but he described the anointed who know best and try to bend us to their will (through laws if possible, but official programmes and schemes to make us conform). Thus we have policy dreamed up by people who are articulate, politically active, and morally fervent. When their schemes fail, since the anointed are smart and can’t be wrong, they accuse us of failing to do them properly. Hence we have the argument that, if you can’t keep your kids slim through diet and exercise, then we’ll take them from you.

    Our ancestors didn’t have to restrict the food intake of their children. Rather than wrap the problem up as a moral failing, perhaps we should investigate why it’s such a big problem today. I suspect it’s a combination of things; processed food, low levels of nutrients in food due to intensified farming methods, no gardens for children to play in (in Auckland at least), being driven to school because parents are afraid to let their kids walk, environmental pollution, overuse of antibiotics, and perhaps a few things I haven’t thought of. The anointed don’t need to ask, because they are smart – they know already.

    One of the problems with the anointed and their ideas is that they never understand that there are usually unintended consequences of their actions. Take kids off their parents, welcome to a new generation of kids whose parenting skills were learned in care homes. They’ll be back on the streets, fatter than even with a drink/drug addiction to keep them company. I suspect there is a better way.

    By the way, if we are holding parents of fat kids to account, surely politicians should be held to the same standards. Quite a few of them would fail the test.

    • +100…good point about the ‘anointed’ ones

      …and OVEREATING is an issue in obesity …our parents and prior generations had far smaller plates of well balanced largely homegrown or local grown foods…they didnt eat between meals …and would leave the table satisfied but not overfed ( they also lived fairly frugally)…also there was far less food and alcohol advertising

      …OVEREATING can also be a sign of boredom, lack of goals/opportunities, sitting in front of the tv/computer too much, depression and compulsion/addiction for foods, especially fast foods, which are not as sustaining …a reason why poorer people are often overweight

      • In which case you are talking about behaviour. What I wonder is, people in the UK, US, NZ and Australia changed their behaviour at the same time because their obesity epidemics are concurrent (in NZ 70% of the population is overweight). We are now seeing and second wave in China, South America and other parts of Europe. I find it odd that the world’s population suddenly decided to become bored, addicted etc, without some good reason. We are talking about huge numbers of people around the world suddenly changing their behaviour some time after 1980. Why?

        • well there is also the issue of aspartame and artificial sugars in ‘diet’ soft drinks…some argue that these ‘diet’ soft drinks and aspartame are causing obesity…why not ban them?


          …and there is the issue of advertising and fast food … ie the commodification of food….artificially creating extra hunger cravings for fast foods with sugar and fat and carbs…where there wasn’t any before

    • @JMH2000 – Gerry Brownlee should be put into foster care immediately. Whoever is responsible for the food he eats is clearly unfit for the job!

      • @ Aaron – it’s mainly our money which contributes to Brownlee’s food intake!

        Seems the balloon look is the style these days in Parliament, judging by the increasing portliness of some of our MPs!

  6. One thing I’ve learned in the last few years of blogging, and reading comments on Right Wing blogs, is that “personal responsibility” applies to everyone else except to those who demand it from others…

    The naked hypocrisy of the Right became apparent very quickly. Just as quickly as the excuses they come up with to “explain” why personal responsibility doesn’t apply to them.

  7. It’s a bit late trying to catch the horse after it has bolted. This is what this idea / suggestion is trying to do.

  8. I agree with many points made here and also I want to add that in reality there is a shortage of places for children for CYF to place children so having such blaming , shaming policies are really only a diversion form the real issues.

  9. Blaming the ‘cost’ of food for children’s obesity is errant nonsense. When you look at the price of healthy foods like surimi, mussels, flank steaks, hoki (7 dollars a kilo!) and bulk vegetables, there are spending choices these parents have that are infinity cheaper and vastly healthier but instead they make a deliberate choice to purchase food that will condemn their children to a lifetime of illness and disease.

    The real reason is that fast food is easier and requires no effort. Trying to ban all ‘unhealthy’ fast food instead reeks of a higher degree of fascism than what you are complaining about.

    • No Timoti, the real reason is that high fat food makes a person feel more full, for longer as it takes more time to metabolise, which makes it an appealing option for those with little money. Especially when they have been having to skip meals. Two minute noodles are very cheap and filling but if you lived on them it would make you fat.

  10. Hubby & I went out shopping yesterday. Almost everywhere we went, it was chocolate, lollies and hot cross buns in your face! Couldn’t seem to get away from it. It was like a huge monster, there wherever we went! We were overwhelmed by it all. Never noticed how bad the Easter advertising was before!

    And the powers that be are jumping up and down because we have an obesity problem?? Getting CYFs to remove ‘obese’ children from their families isn’t the answer!

    How about starting with targeting advertisers and certain retail outlets, which are responsible for promoting and pushing the gut rot food industry, particularly at this time of the year!

  11. One of the biggest problems when we talk about obesity and nutrition is that we think that food and nourishment are the same – they are not necessarily the same. One can have food and not be nourished – as seems to be the crux of the problem in western society. We eat a lot of sugar and fat that fools the body and brain into THINKING it has been nourished. This is part of the reason why it is possible to be both obese and suffering from malnutrition. I saw a good video about it once on You Tube but unfortunately I can’t remember the title.
    The fast food and junk food industry has seldom ever been called to task for marketing every increasing amounts of bland non-nutritional fodder (it is not food, it is really just the human version of cattle fodder) to the population which is a significant factor in the rise of heart diseases, diabetes and other obesity related conditions.
    When anyone suggests that some kind of controls or taxes be levied to do something about this, we get the same predictable reactions – nanny state, individual responsibility, etc.
    It is not good enough for a government to shrug its shoulders and say that it is up to people to eat what is good for them and if they don’t it is their own faults. We deserve a government that cares more for the welfare of its people than the profits of the junk food industry – but we haven’t got it now and are not likely to get it in the near future.
    You actually might expect a National government, who are always looking to cut down health expenditure, to contribute to cutting down the staggering rise in food consumption related diseases now, to save money in the long term: but unfortunately National only looks at things in three year electoral cycle terms and cannot think beyond that square.
    We deserve a lot better, our sick and mal nourished deserve a government that treats them with respect, not blames them for them for their own choices when those choices have been marketed as a normal lifestyle by the fodder producing industry

  12. My thinking on this is that I appreciate the sentiment – we probably do need to do something about the obesity epidemic. But there’s a lot of issues like this that we need to be addressing. The alcohol consumption in New Zealand leaps out at me as being a giant flashing neon sign above an issue that needs some attention.

    At any rate, I think taking people’s kids away for something we happily allow in adults is going too far. We should be trying to create a healthier society in general – less abuse of alcohol, better eating habits. But there are road blocks. For one thing, many families literally cannot afford it. Eating well is expensive. We need to see things like income equality and living wages and perhaps no gst on local produce and meat.

    But no. We yank people’s kids out of their care because they’re to fat and put them in foster care where abuse statistics are a worry anyway. What’s the point? If you want to bring about change, this is not the way to go about it. Why are so many morons in charge of this country? Why are so many morons voting in this country? Sigh.

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