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Health nannies want to ban sweets of old but ROSE PRINCE insists it's today's junk that's worse

Some of us adored bonbons, others hankered after fizzy sherbet-filled sweets or fruity chews, but all sweets were proper treats. They were our rewards and prizes, even peace accords with parents, sometimes with friends.Often we were denied them, so when we got our small hands on such delights as sherbet lemons, chocolate limes, gobstoppers or Fruit Salads, we relished every sticky drop of sweetness they delivered.A toffee bonbon, a simple ball of dusty sugar enclosing a chewy nugget of sublime sweet butteriness, was my purest form of pleasure as a child. Little was better than having one slowly dissolve in my mouth, tucked between teeth and cheek — that way they lasted longer.No one talked back then about a 'war on sugar'. And though my mother muttered that too much confectionery meant fillings while she was squirting the Gibbs SR onto my toothbrush at night, no one considered us a generation of sugar addicts for whom sweets should be banned.That, however, is the view now held by those in charge of the nation's health.Public Health England, on the order of ministers, has told manufacturers of confectionery that, in future, sweets should contain less than 50 per cent sugar.This means some of our traditional favourites will cease to exist. Boiled sweets, for example, could never survive such draconian regulation because they are, unsurprisingly, made of nearly 100 per cent sugar.So those sherbet lemons, humbugs, bulls eyes, Parma Violets, pear drops, cola cubes, Sherbet Fountains and good old bonbons are all consigned to extinction.Even less sugary sweets like jelly babies, liquorice allsorts and chews, being two-thirds sugar, will fall short of these puritanical standards and will disappear.The Institute of Economic Affairs think tank, no less, has labelled the new rules 'the largest extension of state control over the British diet since rationing'.The radical legislation, to me, is utterly wrong-headed and doomed to fail. By targeting sweets in this arbitrary manner, it ignores where the real problems lie.Banning them takes the spotlight off so-called healthy foods in which the sugar is hidden. Foods such as smoothies and juices, breakfast cereals and baked goods. Smoothies are especially pernicious, promising to help deliver your five-a-day fruits or vegetables while at the same time containing, in some cases, more sugar than Coca Cola. Earlier this month the School of Dentistry in Queensland, Australia, produced research that showed fruit juices are as bad for teeth as fizzy drinks.But smoothies and fruit juice have escaped the 'sugar tax' introduced last year on fizzy drinks to deter consumption — and which we know has persuaded manufacturers to reduce sugar content. And judging by the giant cartons and containers sold in supermarkets, they are never rationed; indeed parents often encourage their children to help themselves at will from the fridge in the misguided belief that they are healthy.Families are also consuming enormous amounts of sugar in breakfast cereals and cereal bars.The obesity crisis is not down to over-eating sherbert lemons, but excess of these sweet staples and cheap fast foods: home-delivered, savoury, additive-packed snacks; deals on buckets of fried chicken and bumper packs of frozen oven chips; cakes and biscuits available for all-day grazing.Also, when I was growing up there were no smartphones or iPads to demand our attention, and children's TV was limited: instead we played outdoors whenever we could — skipping, rounders, hide and seek and other active games — and we ate healthy homemade meals every day.This is why it is so wrong to take it out on old-fashioned sweets. Few parents offer non-stop access to bags of toffees, as they do these other foodstuffs. So why not ...Read more

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