Is Britain failing the Sugar Test?

Someone once told me that soft drinks companies regularly analyse their competitors’ products. Not so that they can copy the recipes, but in order to monitor the sugar content. Sugar is the most expensive ingredient, and a competitor reducing the amount of sugar in its fizzy drinks is most likely in financial trouble.

I have recently noticed an indicator, like the sugar content in drinks, which is a sure sign that an enterprise is in serious decline. In fact it doesn’t just correlate with the financial performance of businesses, but is a Sugar Test for the very prosperity and integrity of whole countries.

I discovered it on a trip to Spain. There’s a pharmacy near where we stay, and it has always been typical of continental pharmacies – blindingly white, clean, quiet and tidy. The medicines and toiletries are expensive. The staff in white coats are professional, aloof and yet helpful. The green cross sign outside may be a frenetic, dazzling animation more appropriate to Las Vegas than a quiet Spanish street, but inside all is calm and, well, clinical.

This time, however, something had changed. Continue reading