Page last updated at 17:39 GMT, Thursday, 12 March 2009

'Savour the real chocolate flavour'

A Scottish GP has called for a tax on products containing chocolate to help fight rising obesity levels in the UK.

The BBC News website's Laura Pettigrew has been speaking to one chocolate shop owner, and self-confessed chocolate lover, who is strongly opposed to the idea.

Marion sells chocolates and truffles in her shop near Glasgow

"Good chocolate is fine in moderation", said Marion Dougan.

She is the owner of Cacao chocolate shop in Milngavie, near Glasgow.

She set up the business two years ago after moving back to Scotland from the continent.

"I used to live in Italy and I saw shop chocolate shops doing really well there," she said. "But they were not selling the confectionary and sweeties that we in the UK call 'chocolate' they were selling good quality stuff.

"Good quality chocolate is fantastic. It has real flavour, it melts in the mouth, and the taste of just one small square will linger for ages afterwards.

She added: "When I hear Dr Walker talking about the "empty calories" in chocolate I have to disagree. If you eat proper chocolate and really savour the flavour then a small amount goes a long way and does satisfy you."

Health living has to come from people's heads not their wallets
Marion Dougan
Chocolate shop owner

Marion said a tax on products containing chocolate would not stop people buying something they really love.

"Health living has to come from people's heads not their wallets. It is education that is need rather than just raising the prices of things like chocolate and alcohol.

"People will just end up buying cheaper alternatives that are full of sugar and even worse for their health.

"If we continued down this road where would we stop? Would we be putting a tax on chips, crisps or on Scotch pies?"

Cocoa beans

She added: "People need to be educated about what they should, and should not, eat.

"People need to be taught the difference between a confectionary chocolate bar, which is full of vegetable fat and sugar, and real, pure chocolate."

Marion also insisted that the chocolate makers should not become the villains of the piece.

"Good chocolate producers are ploughing money back into local communities where cocoa beans are grown and harvested," she said.

"By buying good quality chocolate people are helping support villages and farmers in the developing world.

"If a tax was put on chocolate consumers may well buy the cheaper confectionery products and this would have a knock-on effect on the people at the other end of the chain."

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