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Jamie Oliver has called for an ‘Eton Mess’ protest outside Downing Street if Boris Johnson does not undo his U-turn on key elements of the childhood obesity strategy.
The celebrity chef recorded himself outside the prime minister’s residence today, saying he was ‘upset’ after the government reneged on plans to ban junk food TV adverts before 9pm and buy-one-get-one-free deals at supermarkets.
In a video uploaded to Instagram, he called on parents, teachers and campaigners to bring their own Eton Mess desserts to No.10 on Friday and to ‘hold them up in solidarity.’
Speaking directly to the PM, Oliver ‘begged’ him to reverse course, telling him: ‘I’m here at your front door and I want to give you a little message.’
He said the Mr Johnson’s U-turn had ‘upset me and all the people that campaigned for child health’, adding: ‘I would love to give you the opportunity, if possible, to realise that it’s okay to make a mistake…
‘You’ve got 36 hours to go back on your U-turn on the law your own government put in place.’
He added: ‘If you don’t, I will call on parents teachers, chefs, campaigners, cleaners…. to walk down here at 12:30 on Friday for 15 minutes.
‘Why? Because we’re going to bring Eton mess, that great dessert, invented in that very privileged place, Eton school, where our prime minister went.
Jamie Oliver recorded himself outside the prime minister’s residence today (pictured), saying he was ‘upset’ after the government reneged on plans to ban junk food TV adverts and buy-one-get-one-free deals at supermarkets.
Oliver called on parents to march to Downing Street on Friday and hold up their Eton mess desserts ‘in solidarity’
Speaking directly to Boris Johnson (pictured), Oliver ‘begged’ him to reverse course, telling him: ‘I’m here at your front door and I want to give you a little message.’
No10’s U-turn on ‘buy one get one free’ meal deals ban ‘will make cost of living crisis WORSE’
No10’s reversal on a planned ban of ‘buy one get one free’ deals will only worsen the UK’s cost of living crisis, Government calculations suggest.
A Whitehall assessment of the ban — set to come into play this October — found outlawing the promotions would actually save the public £14 a year.
The report, published in 2020, claimed the multibuy promotions encourage households to spend an extra £75 each year.
This was offset by £61 of savings from the discounts of BOGOF deals.
The ban was one of the key pledges of No10’s anti-obesity strategy to encourage Britons to lose weight and save the NHS money.
But the Prime Minister U-turned on the measure, citing the impact they would have on poorer families at a time when many Britons are struggling with rising costs.
Health campaigners have savaged the move, with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver saying it was a ‘wasted opportunity’ to tackle obesity.
However, some Tory MPs, who were unhappy with the planned ban as a ‘nanny-state’ measure welcomed Mr Johnson’s announcement.
‘I’d love you to make your Eton mess, go to Tesco, Sainsbury’s…get your Eton mess and bring it here in an orderly way for 15 minutes of fun, no mess, no shouting, just positivity, to show support that he needs and his government needs to take the childhood obesity strategy seriously.’
He added: ‘This doesn’t have to happen Boris, I think even though you were lucky enough to have the education at Eton, I went to a comprehensive school, but really my school was the pub I grew up in, and my main teacher was my dad, and he taught me three things: Actions speak louder than words, be true to your word, and never buy fish on a Monday.
‘So Boris, I ask you, dare I say it I beg you, please re-consider backtracking on key parts of the childhood obesity strategy.
‘This is one of the most profoundly important things as far as getting to the heart of levelling up and making this country a happier and healthier, more productive, fairer place.
‘So Boris, over to you brother, with warm hearts, do the right thing.’
MailOnline has contacted Downing Street for comment.
The chef has previously blasted the PM’s U-turn as a ‘wasted opportunity’ to tackle obesity in children, which has soared during the pandemic.
He wrote in the caption of today’s video: ‘Prime minister Boris Johnson… 36 hours to reconsider your reckless U-turn on The childhood obesity strategy to protect child health…..
‘And if he doesn’t do the right thing I call on the British public to turn up at number 10 Downing Street on FRIDAY at 12:30 for 15 minutes with the dessert of Eton Mess symbolising 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.’ [sic]
Oliver’s sentiment was echoed by former Tory leader Lord William Hague, who warned it was a ‘terrible error’ to associate conservatism with a reluctance to protect people, arguing it is in keeping with the party’s traditional values to save consumers from being ‘abused or misled’.
He wrote: ‘Under pressure from some Conservative MPs, some of whom have been threatening to write letters of no confidence in Boris Johnson unless they get their way, ministers have retreated from banning buy-one-get-ne-free deals and from imposing a watershed of 9pm on junk food advertising.
‘While some measures, such as rules on the positioning of unhealthy foods by retailers, will still go ahead in October, this U-turn adds to the long history of failed obesity strategies.’
Lord Hague added: ‘MPs who have pressed, seemingly successfully, for the dilution of the obesity strategy are profoundly mistaken.
‘They are acquiescing in a future of higher dependence, greater costs, reduced lifestyle choice and endless pain.
‘For the Government to give in to them is intellectually shallow, politically weak and morally reprehensible.’
Oliver said at the weekend that a ban on TV junk food adverts before a 9pm watershed, which has been put on hold for a year, was key to protecting child health.
Ministers have said they are also deferring the ban on buy-one-get-one-free deals for foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) in England for 12 months so they can review the impact on family budgets in the face of the cost-of-living crisis.
The move has been welcomed by the industry and by some Tory MPs opposed to the state interfering in how people spend their money, but it has alarmed health campaigners.
Jamie Oliver, pictured, has hit out at the Government’s decision to bin a ban on buy-one-get-one-free offers for unhealthy foods
Oliver called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson, pictured, to show ‘real leadership to give young people a healthier and fairer future’
Mr Oliver tweeted last week: ‘We know there’s a vital need to protect child health and make sure the next generation doesn’t suffer from diet-related disease. Policies like restricting junk food advertising to kids are crucial for levelling up and popular with the public.
‘This is a wasted opportunity and it starts to erode the whole obesity strategy – which at some point looked progressive and world-leading written down, but is falling apart when it comes to acting on these policies.
‘Parents and kids don’t want to hear any more excuses from the Government. I really hope the Prime Minister @BorisJohnson proves me wrong and shows real leadership to give young people a healthier and fairer future’.
The delay was also criticised by former health minister Lord Bethell, who said failure to tackle the ‘obesity crisis’ would simply add to the costs of the NHS.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I am concerned that it will blow a hole in the obesity strategy. That has a massive follow-on effect on all of our health targets.
‘More people are getting cancer due to obesity-related effects. So the cancer 10-year plan, the extra five years of longevity and many more of our health targets are damaged by this.
Lockdowns made British children even fatter
Lockdowns and school closures have been linked to an ‘unprecedented’ rise in childhood obesity in England.
Government data shows record numbers of youngsters were obese or morbidly overweight by the time they started Reception or left primary school in April 2021.
Many experts warned at the time that locking down children, despite their low risk of Covid, could have long-lasting repercussions on their health.
One in seven youngsters in Reception were obese last April after three national lockdowns — compared to one in 10 before the pandemic.
The proportion that were too fat by the time they got to Year 6 rose to one in four, up from one in five pre-Covid. Almost one in three boys are now obese by the time they finish primary school.
It marks the biggest increase in childhood obesity since records began in 2006, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities said.
The pandemic has also widened health inequalities, with those from the poorest areas now twice as likely to be obese as those from the wealthiest parts on average.
‘All of this illness that is caused by (being) overweight from junk food is being carried by the NHS and by the taxpayer.’
Lord Bethell, who piloted measures to bar multi-buy deals before he was sacked as a health minister last year, questioned whether ministers will be able to go ahead with the ban in the current Parliament in the face of entrenched opposition within Conservative ranks.
‘I think the Government really should be focusing its armour on trying to reduce the obesity crisis rather than playing to the choir,’ he said.
‘What we see in supermarkets at the moment is an arms race on junk food. That needs to change.’
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the ban on multi-buy promotions will now come into effect in October 2023, while the bar on TV adverts before 9pm is delayed to January 2024.
Public health minister Maggie Throup previously insisted the Government remains determined to tackle the issue of childhood obesity.
‘We’re committed to doing everything we can to help people live healthier lives,’ she said.
‘Pausing restrictions on deals like buy-one-get-one-free will allow us to understand its impact on consumers in light of an unprecedented global economic situation.’
Industry body the Food and Drink Federation welcomed the ‘pragmatism’ of the Government’s action.
Kate Halliwell, its chief scientific officer, said: ‘At a time when both families and our manufacturers are struggling with high inflation, it makes sense to delay the restrictions on volume promotions for everyday food and drink products, including breakfast cereals, ready meals and yoghurts, as it risked further stretching already-pressed household budgets.
‘We also welcome the delay to the start of advertising restrictions, given the time it will take our industry to prepare for the change in law.’
The DHSC said restrictions on the placement of less healthy products in stores and supermarkets will still come into force this October as planned.
Last month, laws on calorie labelling in large restaurants, cafes and takeaways came into force.