Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has urged Theresa May to go to war against obesity, saying the crisis will be responsible for far more deaths than Isis.
Oliver is featured in an edition of Channel 4 show Dispatches, which tonight (8pm) focuses on claims that the PM deliberately watered down David Cameron’s plans to tackle childhood obesity.
Dispatches repeats earlier claims that entire sections of David Cameron’s original plans were deleted under the slimline Childhood Obesity Plan, which came out in August.
The programme says these included proposals to cut childhood obesity by half within the next 10 years, which it was originally hoped would mean 800,000 fewer obese children by 2026. This pledge was replaced, it says, with the new plan promising to “significantly reduce” childhood obesity within the next 10 years.
Oliver tells the show: “Obesity is killing huge amounts of people, well before their time. This is a war, if you are worried about the thing that hurts British people the most, it ain’t Isis, right?”
He adds: “I don’t know where to start. This should go to the Trades Descriptions Act because that says an ‘action plan’ and there’s hardly any action in there. When you look at how the plan came out at midnight, next to the A Level results, while the whole of government’s on holiday, it absolutely screams out ‘we don’t care’.”
Speculation that the government had watered down the obesity plans emerged even before May came to power. However, after the plan was released, senior industry sources and health campaigners both told The Grocer the original version contained mandatory rather than voluntary reformulation targets.
It also moved away from Public Health England’s number one priority set out in its sugar reduction strategy last year, which called for moves to tackle the in-store promotional imbalance towards so-called junk food. The Grocer exclusively revealed supermarket bosses vowed to walk away from any voluntary agreement with ministers if this subject were broached.
Other plans included proposals to force restaurants, cafés and takeaways to put calorie information on menus.
Tonight’s show also features former Olympic rower James Cracknell, who hits out at the plans alongside other critics including Action on Sugar.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “Our plan to tackle child obesity is groundbreaking: no other developed country has done anything as ambitious. The government has intentionally taken a careful and measured approach that will reduce obesity. We are taking bold action though the soft drinks industry levy to cut the amount of sugar consumed by young people.
“Alongside this, our restrictions on advertising and promotion are among the toughest in the world. These steps will make a real difference to help reverse a problem that has been decades in the making, but we have not ruled out further action if the right results are not seen.”