In Germany, a Fanta Orange contains 7.6 g of sugar per 100 ml, in Great Britain only 4.6 g. This is because the UK has a sugar tax, but Germany does not. The example shows that recipes are changed when it makes financial sense.

“Of course, the task of the state is not to tell people what to eat, but to control where we see undesirable developments,” says nutrition and food journalist Martin Rücker.

“If it’s easier to eat unhealthy than healthy, then something’s wrong here. If there’s no healthy eating budget for kids, then something’s wrong here.” means eating healthy because 1000 unhealthy calories are cheaper than 1000 healthy calories.

Poor = small = more stupid

And that has far-reaching consequences, says Rücker, citing a study from Brandenburg that evaluated data collected from school entrance exams over the years:

“Children from low-income families were found to be much shorter and also mentally retarded. The researchers involved basically attribute this to the fact that there is a shortage of important nutrients here. »

The link between prosperity or poverty and health has also long been known among adults: the poorer they are, the less healthy they are and the shorter the life expectancy. Overall, the number of overweight people and diabetics has been increasing for years.

National Poverty Reduction Program

“I think it’s a real shame that we don’t even bother to determine when setting the standard prices (for Hartz IV): what is the money requirement for a healthy diet?”, says Martin Rücker.

Instead, only the amount low-income people have spent on nutrition in the past is recorded. But since they don’t have the means to eat healthily, everything stays the same. “It’s a program to promote poverty”, sums up the specialized journalist.

Another criticism of the specialized journalist: the State ignores the logic of the market. Businesses have profited more from junk food than natural food. And that’s why advertising budgets are pouring into this area.

Germany far behind in the fight against obesity

Rücker advocates a tax on sugar and, in return, a reduction in VAT on fruit and vegetables. And he joins the call of many professional societies to ban junk food advertising that is aimed specifically at children.

But in Germany it is very difficult to cope with such regulations. “We don’t want a paternalistic state, even if paternalism means that in the end the children are fed healthily.” In a European and international comparison, Germany is “very far behind” when it comes to effective policy measures against obesity and diabetes.

In the coalition agreement of the traffic light government, there are many declarations of intent that indeed go in the right direction, says Rücker. But he has known for some years what influence the sugar lobby can exert. And in the traffic light there are very different ideas about the role of the state. He therefore remains, says Rücker, “cautiously pessimistic”. (fs)

Martin Rücker is a journalist and author, he was press manager for several years and then general manager of the consumer organization food watch. His book “You make us sick. The fatal consequences of German food policy and the power of the food lobby” (Econ Verlag).

© imago / photothek / Inga Kjer