A scourge of our superannuated National Health Service, Ben Spence is ubiquitous this week. Following his rage at state funding for homeopathy in the Independent, he’s now popped up on Spiked to question the government’s ‘preventive’ approach to sugar.

True, we’ve heard it all before. The idea of reducing sugar in products is already redundant because the industry has discovered a way of retaining sweetness while massively reducing sugar content.

What’s more, the model the government is following – the already contradictory regulation of tobacco – is manifestly unsuited to a foodstuff. The principle that governments should interfere with personal lifestyle choices is outrageous. The rates of childhood obesity are already falling without intervention.

But these facts bear repetition. Any authoritarianism should be resisted, and every action like this is another win for the ‘wellness’ lobbyists who line their pockets by lecturing other people.

In the past, Popla has been called all kinds of names for referring to these busybodies as the ‘health police’. So we can’t help feeling vindicated today to read the same phrase in the venerable Times (commenting on Europe’s proposed new regulation of crisps).

Mary Poppins was no respecter of authority. She showed children the world in all its difficulty and wonder – both medicine and sugar – and allowed them to come to their own conclusions. The nanny state would prefer that we were locked in the nursery.

by Julia Dixon