Jamie Oliver calls for 'bold and brave' action to tackle obesity
Jamie Oliver has urged David Cameron to be "bold and brave" in tackling obesity after the Prime Minister vetoed taxing sugary drinks and food.
The celebrity chef said the "ball is firmly in the Government's court" after a Public Health England (PHE) report suggested a levy of up to 20% would cut sugar consumption.
A spokesman for Mr Cameron said the Prime Minister had not read the report but was not in favour of a tax, believing there were other measures to drive down childhood obesity.
Oliver, a vocal campaigner for healthy eating, praised the study and urged ministers to tackle the obesity crisis "like parents not politicians".
He said: "I'm excited and relieved that we finally got to see Public Health England's courageous, forward-thinking report and its excellent recommendations such as a proposed sugar levy, cutting down on the advertising of high sugar food, all of which are powerful weapons in improving our children's health.
"Doctors, dentists, scientists, a large and growing percentage of the British public and many in the media are calling for action. The ball is firmly in the Government's court.
"They have the opportunity now to be bold and brave and ensure Britain leads the way against obesity and diet-related disease. Healthier, happier and brighter kids ensure a more sustainable and prosperous Britain.
"There has never been a better time than now. Let's tackle this like parents not politicians."
The PHE report, which was originally shelved by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said it "would seem logical" that a "sugar tax" of 10% to 20% would lead to a reduction in consumption, though it stressed some of the evidence on the issue was limited.
It calls for efforts to "reduce and rebalance" the number and type of price promotions on foods and to "significantly reduce opportunities to market and advertise high-sugar food and drink products to children and adults".
Food retail price promotions "are more widespread in Britain than anywhere else in Europe" and "higher sugar products are promoted more than other foods", the report said.
The study, called Sugar Reduction: The Evidence For Action, warns that average sugar intake is 12% to 15% of people's energy intake instead of the 5% Government advisers say it should be.
For school-age children, sugar is 14.7% of all calorie intake and 15.6% for teenagers.
A Number 10 spokesman said: " The Prime Minister's view remains the same, that he does not see the need for a tax on sugar, but that it's important to remember that that is not the only part of this debate.
"The Prime Minister thinks there are more effective ways of tackling this issue than putting a tax on sugar."
Proposed measures such as restrictions on advertising unhealthy products to children or lowering sugar content in food and drinks would be taken into account as the Government's anti-obesity strategy was drawn up, he added.
The spokesman confirmed that the PM had not read the PHE report before forming his view on the sugar tax, adding: "I don't believe he's read that specific report, but obviously all of the evidence and all of the reports on this wide-ranging set of issues will all be taken into account. There are lots and lots of pieces of evidence within this debate."
Mr Hunt had planned to publish the PHE report alongside the Government strategy on tackling obesity later this year.
But a row occurred between the Government, PHE and MPs on the Commons health committee over claims it was suppressed, leading PHE to finally release it.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: "This report is a forensic and far reaching call to arms in our country's fight against obesity, which can no longer be ignored.
"We now need to see comprehensive action, informed by this carefully assembled evidence of what will actually work. The health of our children, and the future of our health service, depends on it."