Tuesday 23 December 2014

A fizzy timebomb - as machines dole out sugar

Published 02/09/2014 | 02:30

Health experts have said increasing tax on sugary drinks could help curb child obesity
Health experts have said increasing tax on sugary drinks could help curb child obesity

We are all familiar with the catch-phrase "like a child in a sweet shop" to describe that heady uncontrolled excitement when you are surrounded by too many tempting goodies all at once.

Sadly, these days the 'sweet shop' is proliferating, with the vending machine making that sugar fix available 24/7.

Having convinced supermarkets to offer a few candy-free checkouts, weary parents still face the risk of a sugar-driven temper tantrum in shopping malls, train stations and cinemas .

But the fact that vending machines are located in one-third of all secondary schools is even more alarming.

Children love sweets and the mere suggestion of a sugary treat gets them salivating regardless of appetite or need.

My nine-year-old triplets may have barely swallowed their lunch when the sight of a brightly coloured selection of sweets or crisps in a vending machine can provoke them to turn on the pester machine in triplicate.

And their persistent campaigning is even more powerful when they have just finished a swim in the local sports centre and we are greeted with an array of salt, sugar and fat in various guises, helpfully stocked in the very venue people visit in an effort to live a healthier lifestyle.

Children tend to be more impulsive than even the most reckless of adults - that's why we are supposed to look out for them.

Worries about dentures by the time they are 40 or the increasing girth of their waistlines don't rank very high on my sons' list of concerns.

First Lady Michelle Obama earned the wrath of adolescents across the United States when she persuaded schools to stock healthy snacks.

No doubt there would be objections from students here too. But isn't it the job of us boring old adults - including Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan - to make the sensible choices for young people?

And if that means that future school-based vending machines are either banned or look like the contents of a health food shop crossed with a fruit and veg stand, I'm willing to suffer the moans of the future generation.

Irish Independent

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