For someone incredibly passionate about food, who only ever eats what I make myself at home, I’ve always been curious at the eating habits of others. The recent debate concerning the proposed sugar tax caught my attention and made me want to explore it beyond my own opinions and the opinions of those I’ve encountered in the mainstream media over the past few days.
Using Crimson Hexagon – an incredibly powerful tool, which allows you to distil meaning from the vast quantity of social data that exists – I attempted to discover what the people of Twitter thought about this contentious issue.
Lets begin by looking at the general spread of opinion.
For or Against?
In the interest of fairness I created three separate criteria, which would be used to assess the tweets. Pro and anti speak for themselves and general commentary can be read as neutral as it includes tweets that mention the tax without favouring either side.
Now we know which side of the argument people favour lets take a look at the topical nature of the discussion.
Cameron vs Oliver?
At a glance it’s possible to interpret this as a straightforward battle between Jamie Oliver and David Cameron about how a sugar tax could help tackle obesity but the discussion runs deeper than this.
While Jamie Oliver is the name most commonly associated with the debate, the topics below cover some of the wider aspects.
If we compare how some of these topics are interlinked we see that talk of the evidence that supports the tax and the benefits of introducing the tax crop up in the same conversations on the same days.
If we assess this further and take obesity as the core issue we can see that it is being referred to as a crisis and health experts are telling MP’s that a sugar tax could help solve childhood obesity.
The debate takes on a further political dimension with talk of Jeremy Hunt intentionally delaying the release of the report, which was officially backed by health exports.
Assessing the Demographics
From what we’ve seen so far we know that the debate is strongly linked to childhood obesity so we’d expect to see a more mature audience, typically parents taking part and this is clearly reflected with the majority of those involved being aged 35 and above but what is surprising is the gender split with 64% of males involved compared to 36% of females.
As for the regional divide London, the south east, and north west are the three regions most heavily involved in the debate.
So there you have it – a top level look at what the people of Twitter think about the sugar tax, who they are, where they’re from, and what the wider debate means for the nations health.