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Childhood obesity strategy underwhelming, says TV chef Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver warning on child obesity
Jamie Oliver warning on child obesity

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has joined leading doctors and health campaigners in condemning the Government’s “underwhelming” childhood obesity strategy.

Theresa May’s Government has been accused of “watering down” the long-awaited plan, which does not include curbs on junk food advertising despite repeated calls from campaigners.

Instead, the strategy favours a voluntary scheme for the food industry to reformulate popular children’s products to reduce sugar.

The TV chef said the plan is “underwhelming” and “far from robust… with so much missing”.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jane Ellison denied that the Prime Minister had removed the strongest proposals, amid reports that she wanted to spare businesses from new restrictions during post-Brexit uncertainty.

Responding to claims that the childhood obesity strategy was a priority for David Cameron but not his successor Mrs May, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “No, that’s not right.

“One of the problems about having at the heart of the plan this reformulation strategy, let’s be honest, is it is quite technical.

“It’s not as iconic, for example, as talking about everyday things that everyone understands around advertising but it is nonetheless the thing that every expert, not just in this country but around the world, recommends as the most effective.

“It feeds into everything else, it feeds through into advertising, and promotions.”

She added: “We’ve looked at a whole range of policies over the past year, this is the plan that we’re putting forward, it’s a cross-Government plan.”

With reports that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had wanted tougher measures butbeen overruled by Mrs May, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron questioned why ithad been left to a Treasury minister to launch the report.

“The strategy should be based on evidence of what will work to reduce obesity, not on vested interests of ministers or the lobbyists from the junk food industry. I have to wonder where is the

Health Secretary and why it is not him launching this much delayed report?” he said.

“By watering down much of this strategy to ‘voluntary schemes’, the Prime Minister seems content to put an awful lot of trust in this industry to ‘do the right thing’, when for decades they have been happy to pump dangerously high levels of sugar and fat into products they market directly to children – knowing exactly how unhealthy they were.”


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