Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef, author, restaurateur and “most importantly today…dad, has recently met with MP’s to discuss strategies for combating Britain’s obesity crisis.
Oliver has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to be “as brave as he knows he should be” in the face of big industries, over a proposed introduction of a 20% tax on sugary drinks.
As part of the government’s forthcoming anti-obesity strategy, Oliver is asking for MP’s not to disregard a controversial levy, that would see 7p added to sugary beverages, discouraging the public from making “the wrong decision”.
“We should work out who is running the country. Is it businesses – who are profiting from ill health in our country – or is it us?”said Oliver.
He added that the tax would “remind [manufacturers] who is boss. And that is child health and the government.”
Oliver implored the government to make the right decision, when it comes to the health of future generations and that by enacting the right policy, MP’s would prove they are willing “to fight tooth and nail for public health, and especially children’s health”.
Jamie Oliver told MP’s that by introducing a tax, the government could raise up to £1bn a year – a figure he would like to see shared between the NHS and primary schools to educate children about correct nutrition and provide them with options to create a healthier future for themselves and their families.
Oliver was speaking to the House of Commons’ Health Committee, despite them previously stating that they would not be introducing a ‘sugar tax’.
“The government has committed to a tax lock to avoid raising the cost of living and to promote UK productivity and economic growth,” according to a statement released by the Department of Heath.
“The causes of obesity are complex, cause by a number of dietary, lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors, and tackling it will require a comprehensive and broad approach.
“As such, the government is considering a range of options for tackling childhood obesity.”
To demonstrate his point, Jamie handed out sugary drinks that had been rebranded, to feature the number of teaspoons of sugar it contains.
“The reason the industry doesn’t want you to have that is because the impact is visceral,” he said as he pointed to the drink in question.
“I’m not saying you ain’t going to buy it, I’m saying you won’t rattle it out three times a day”.
The chef also called on MP’s to push forward proposed changes to the food and beverage industry that would attempt to reverse the obesity epidemic in the UK.
The proposed changes, released in his ‘Sugar Manifesto‘ would see the tax accompanied by ‘The Responsibility Deal’, a ban on all junk food marketing before 9pm, repackaging that shows sugar in teaspoons rather as well as grams, and introducing the ‘traffic light labelling system’ on all food and drink products.
“This colour-coded system means consumers can quickly identify if a food has high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt – it should be made mandatory for all manufacturers to sign up.”
“We’ve got to get medieval on this stuff”
“Whether I win or fail, I would at least like to think that this wasn’t a waste of my time and that the interrogation that everyone has, has highlighted a conversation about clarity and choice. Clearly we have a problem with the amount of sugary food and drinks our children are consuming.”