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Theresa May has let down every child in Britain over obesity, says Jamie Oliver

Published 13/09/2016

Jamie Oliver says a proposed tax on sugary drinks only came about through his campaigning
Jamie Oliver says a proposed tax on sugary drinks only came about through his campaigning

Jamie Oliver has hit out at Prime Minister Theresa May - saying she has "let every child in Britain down" by behaving like a politician instead of a parent over new plans to tackle child obesity.

The TV chef criticised Mrs May, who does not have children, for abandoning plans over junk food advertising, saying that the new proposals were "a travesty".

Doctors, health campaigners and politicians criticised the long-awaited proposals to tackle child obesity when they were unveiled in August.

Now Oliver, a father-of-five, has told Radio Times magazine: "Everything about the childhood obesity strategy that's just come out is a complete stinking herring. It's a terrible job Theresa May's done there. Unforgivable.

"She's completely let every child in Britain down, let parents down, everyone has been let down. The stuff on the shelf with her predecessor was going to be much more robust.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm not slagging her off for the sake of it. I wanted her to act not like a politician but a parent."

When the interviewer tells Oliver that Mrs May is not a parent, he replies: "I didn't know that ... But if you look at the strategy, the only thing that's mandatory - and I can honestly tell you that I put that there - is the sugary drink tax."

Key elements of the plan include cutting sugar in foods eaten by children by 20% and a tax on sugary drinks to raise money for school sports.

However ministers were accused of watering down the strategy, which Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had previously said needed to be a ''game-changing moment'' to tackle a "national emergency''.

Oliver told the magazine: "I spent two years building a narrative and backing it up with science, having it ring-fenced - (then Chancellor) George Osborne will tell you I built it.

"I forced debate in the House of Lords by getting over 100,000 people on the petition and brought their website down. The only (mandatory) thing wouldn't be there if I hadn't done the things I've done. Take that out, there's nothing.

"It's the same old bull. And the same old bull hasn't worked for 20 years... "

Oliver told the magazine that the Prime Minister's staff had prevented all communication with the campaigning chef.

"I'm happy to see her at any point," he said.

"But her people have locked down all communications. And it was done when they were all on holiday, in August. It just means, 'Don't care, don't care, don't care, get it under the radar'. It's a travesty."

Oliver, who recently became a parent to his fifth child, River Rocket, added: "I don't know if she's going to want to talk to me because I've nothing nice to say. Nothing.

"What we've got to do is dust down, regather our thoughts and be really, really annoying for the whole term.

"But I do think British parents don't want to just hear bad news all the time. People just want stuff to be fixed."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "We are fully committed to reducing childhood obesity and are confident our world leading plan will make a real difference to help reverse a problem that has been decades in the making.

"This is the start of a conversation and we haven't ruled out further measures if we do not see the progress we need."

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