The Big Eye, February 23

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So, it’s apparently official. Sugar is bad and we are all in danger of obesity and diabetes if we continue to use sugar in our diets. As a dyed-in-the-wool cynic and terminally suspicious of every bit of government-led propaganda, I was intrigued enough to actually try and look at the reality and the supposed reasons for the current hysterical witch hunt being conducted by the nation’s self-appointed food police squads.

I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth and I’m on the wrong side of my ideal weight but I couldn’t see how I could blame my personal predicament on sugar. Those of my acquaintance are ‘normal’ and seem able to feed themselves sensibly without foaming at the mouth every time the chocolate digestives appear on the table or are ballooning uncontrollably because of all the ‘hidden’ sugar lurking in the pies and fat-free provender on offer.

The media ‘debate’ generally accepts the food police’s stance that this stuff is a menace to society and they want to see it taxed into oblivion….but replace it with what? Well, maybe you could try little plastic pots of chilled desserts or low fat yogurts or other products churned out by the food industry. You know the stuff I’m talking about. It’s always emblazoned with labels promoting the fact that it’s either LOW in this or HIGH in that and urges you to buy one and get one free and look forward to enjoying the smooth slippery little jar of processed pap while slumped, semi-comatose in your jim-jams watching “Bake-Off”.

So, what exactly triggered this particular diatribe from yours truly? Simply put, A LEAFLET! Having picked up a patronising and heavily cartoonised leaflet issued by Change-4-Life concerning the evils of sugar I was unaccountably compelled to read it from cover to cover. Packed with advice designed to be easily digested by the educationally-challenged mums and dads, it was a revelation to me and I can honestly say that the contents have changed my entire approach to eating healthily.

Basically, their attitude to sugar is that’s something to fear and avoid wherever possible and we should try to replace it with low fat, low sugar or sugar free jellies etc. The trouble is that a significant proportion of these pots of delight contain all sorts of chemicals to make them taste sweet and consequently attractive to us as a foodstuff. Now, if you’re happy feeding your family with artificial sweeteners with potentially dubious ingredients rather than naturally occurring fructose and sucrose then crack on. But if you’re asking me whether I’d rather sprinkle sugar or aspartame on my grandchildren’s apple crumble then I guess you’ll all know what my decision will be.

If you sit tight another bogeyfood will appear in the headlines soon and we can all start worrying about that. But in the meantime I’m grateful that Public Health England has brought me to my senses and steered me away from chemical sweeteners and back towards the cheap and natural one…sugar!