Posted on 11th May 2018 at 11:28
TV chef Jamie Oliver has told MP's that the childhood obesity crisis is a catastrophe and called on “every single minister” in every government department to help him tackle the problem.
Oliver, appeared before the health and social care committee with fellow chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. He described the obesity crisis as a “national security issue” in terms of mortality and death, and called for important changes in advertising to cut down the “relentless advertising of high salt, fat, sugar products to kids”.
Though there is a TV junk food advertising ban till 6pm, he made a point that children watch family shows far later than that. “The kids, en masse, on terrestrial broadcast, are watching the X Factor – 1.2 million kids last week. And, if they watch a whole season of that, it is a junk food movie that they are going to consume and see in the time of watching that traditional broadcast.”
He also added: “But it’s screens, it’s phones, it’s free apps. Marketing directly to kids is wrong to me.”
He described the recent soft drinks levy as a “fantastic policy” and even suggested it could be extended to sugary milk products.
Fearnley-Whittingstall described an “avalanche of junk food advertising”. He said it was “an arms race between the big food brands, competing with each other in a game they’re extremely good at, backed by a huge amount of money, and they’re racing for our appetites and we’re ultimately the losers”.
Just a mere 1.2% of all food advertising was focused on fruit and vegetables. “It’s not just about curbing the negative effects of the avalanche of junk food advertising that we’re all forced to watch,” Fearnley-Whittingstall said. “It’s got to be about finding ways to promote the marketing and advertising of healthy foods, vegetables in particular.”
The next part of the government’s guidance, Childhood obesity: a plan for action, is expected this year.
Speaking before his House of Commons appearance, Oliver said that health food reforms had been “blown up” by Brexit and then pushed out by Theresa May.
The chef had pushed for former prime minister David Cameron to introduce reforms such as the sugar tax on soft drinks. He has accused May of halting progress on other reforms.
He told Radio 4’s Today programme: “What we need is an environmental change where everyone does their bit, civic, government, business, the home. I worked with Cameron within his group to formulate chapter one, which of course, with Brexit and everything that happened, got blown up”.
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