Jamie Oliver threatens ‘Eton Mess’ protest over obesity policy U-turn

The government will delay bans on buy-one-get-one-free deals and adverts on junk food before 9pm

<p>‘I was a special needs kid from school and I never thought I’d write a book,’ Oliver says</p>

‘I was a special needs kid from school and I never thought I’d write a book,’ Oliver says

Jamie Oliver has warned that he will stage an “Eton Mess” protest outside Downing Street if the government does not reconsider its U-turn over its anti-obesity strategy.

The television chef threatened that the government has “36 hours” to “do the right thing” and called on the public to gather outside the prime minister’s office on Friday with bowls of the dessert at 12.30pm.

In an Instagram post, Oliver stood outside Downing Street and said he had been “thinking long and hard” about the government’s decision to delay a ban on buy-one-get-one-free deals for unhealthy food products.

A ban on television adverts for foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) before a 9pm watershed has also been delayed for 12 months.

The junk food industry and some Tory MPs who opposed state intervention welcomed the move, but health campaigners have been alarmed by the U-turn, which comes just a few weeks after the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) updated its guidance to tackle childhood obesity.

On 7 April, it said that new measures to focus on childhood obesity included “changing the way that unhealthy food and sugary drinks are promoted”.

Oliver’s protest warning comes after former health minister Lord Bethell said the U-turn would “blow a hole” in prime minister Boris Johnson’s obesity strategy, which was introduced in July 2020.

Oliver said in his post that turning up at Number 10 Downing Street with bowls of Eton Mess would symbolise “the privilege and the mess that is our British government and its inability to do the right thing”.

“I really need your help guys you can do it in a lunch break, ask your boss, but please join me to reassure Boris Johnson and all of his ministers that this child health strategy is not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” he added.

Health campaigners such as Action on Sugar said the delay “completely contradicts the government’s levelling up ambitions”.

Professor Graham McGregor, chair of Action on Sugar and Action on Salt, said: “Boris Johnson could have left a legacy of being the first Prime Minister to address obesity in a meaningful way, particularly in restricting advertising and promotion of unhealthy food which were one of his flagship policies.

“Instead, he has given in to his own MPs, and an aggressive food industry, who, ironically, were starting to comply with these new policies.

“This completely contradicts the government’s levelling up ambitions. It will also massively impact the NHS and the nation’s health, which will suffer the consequences and escalating cost of treating obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and tooth decay - all linked to our very high and unnecessary sugar, salt and saturated fat intakes, which the food industry is entirely responsible for.”

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