It all started when the government said it would ban “buy one get one free” deals on junk food and ban pre-watershed TV adverts for foods high in fat, salt or sugar, as part of its strategy to tackle obesity published in July 2020.
The report stated that one in three children leaving primary school were overweight or obese and set out an action plan to tackle the issue.
But the government later u-turned on these plans, saying it would defer action for a year while officials assess how the cost of living is affecting household finances.
If it goes ahead, the ban on multi-buy promotions will now come into effect in October 2023, whilst the ban on TV adverts would be delayed until January 2024 – and Oliver isn’t pleased.
Essentially, he wants the government to u-turn on its u-turn and get on with the obesity strategy ASAP.
The chef asked people to protest outside Number 10 with an Eton Mess pudding at Friday lunch time, to persuade the government to take action against junk food now.
“I’ve asked the British public to come and join me on Friday at 12:30. Please bring an Eton Mess. Just come and have a peaceful protest for 15 minutes,” Oliver told Channel 4.
He continued: “Part of my job, believe it or not is following graphs of how our kids are doing. And the last two years has been extraordinary bad.”
It’s not the first time, the chef has campaigned on public health issues. Oliver has long campaigned on for healthier food in schools.
He also teamed up with the charity Food for Life to introduce a healthy rating scheme in schools, which focused on promoting healthy food inside and out of schools whilst encouraging children to be physically active.
He’s probably known most for banning Turkey Twizzlers in schools in 2005 after launching his Feed Me Better campaign, which aimed to improve the quality of school lunched. He said in 2021 that he still gets public abuse for the campaign.
However, plenty of people think his current stance is tone-deaf amid the cost of living crisis and spiralling food prices.
People are arguing that Oliver’s comments come from a huge place of privilege, with many stating that Olivier should offer recipes for healthy meals on a budget, rather than campaigning on banning cheap junk food.
Food inflation accelerated to 3.5% in April, up from 3.3% in March – the highest inflation rate since March 2013. Archie Norman, the chairman of Marks & Spencer, has warned food prices could even soar by as much as 10% this year, meaning the average food shop in the UK could increase by £271 per year.
The price of oils and fats for food increased by 7.2% in March alone, adding to a more than 18% rise in the last year.
So it’s no wonder that people aren’t impressed by Oliver’s comments.