On Monday, 19 October, Jamie Oliver visited Parliament to give evidence to the Health Select Committee for its inquiry on Childhood Obesity and then attended an APPG for Diabetes meeting to introduce his Sugar Rush campaign to parliamentarians.
Speaking to health select committee members, Mr Oliver said he wanted to see ‘honesty’ and ‘clarity’ from the food industry. Mr Oliver argued the Government has not played its part when it comes to making ‘good choices’ the easy choices. He told the committee he welcomes a multi-sectorial approach to tackling obesity, including a sugar tax with revenue raised going to fund primary schools and the NHS. He expressed his support for restrictions on advertising junk food before 9pm to protect children and for improved food labelling to give clearer information about products’ sugar content. Mr Oliver also called for legally binding targets for reformulation, which has been successful in salt reduction.
Mr Oliver then joined a panel discussion hosted by the APPG for Diabetes. Mr Oliver delivered an impassioned speech to a packed room and declared that we have the answers and the solutions to tackle childhood obesity. He called on the Government to be radical and brave in introducing a sugar tax, a measure he said would be a ‘symbolic moment’ that would lead to a ‘cascade’ of other health changes.
The panel highlighted the dramatic rise we have seen in Type 2 diabetes over the past decade, and identified diabetes as the single biggest health issue the UK faces. Speakers argued that we live in an environment where it become harder and harder to make the healthy choice and called for a concerted effort from Government to address obesity.
In taking questions for the room, Mr Oliver acknowledged that many people with Type 1 diabetes, which is currently not preventable and not linked to obesity, use sugary drinks to treat hypos when their blood glucose levels drop too low. He stated his support for finding an ‘uncomplicated way’ of exempting hypo treatment.
Jamie Oliver has published his own ‘Sugar Manifesto’, which calls for a sugary drinks tax, legislating the Responsibility Deal, restrictions on junk food marketing to kids, mandatory front of pack food labelling, and displaying sugar content in teaspoons on packaging for all sugary drinks.