Jamie Oliver blasts junk food BOGOF ban delay as 'wasted opportunity'
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has blasted a move to delay a ban on buy-one-get-one-free (BOGOF) deals on junk food by the Government, saying the measures are 'vital' to help children's health.
Anti-obesity campaigners have accused the Government of allowing their plan to "fall apart" after he Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the planned ban - due to be brought in in October - on BOGOFs deals for food and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) as well as free refills for soft drinks, would be put on hold for 12 months. A plan to restrict advertising to after the 9pm watershed has also been pushed back 12 months to January 2024.
The decision has been taken due to help review the impact on family budgets in the face of the cost-of-living crisis. But measures on junk food placement in shops will still come into force in October.
However, many have criticised the Government and Oliver has joined them. On Twitter, Jamie Oliver said: "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 Boris Johnson proves me wrong and shows real leadership to give young people a healthier and fairer future."
Barbara Crowther, of the Children's Food Campaign, said ministers should end multi-buy offers as soon as they can. She said: "Obesity is spiking and millions of families can't afford to put proper food on the table. Multi-buy offers make people spend more on junk, and less on healthy food.
"This delay threatens the UK target to halve childhood obesity by 2030. Boris is playing politics with our children's health."
Prof Graham MacGregor, a cardiologist at Queen Mary University of London and chairman of Action on Sugar, added: "He has given in to his own MPs, and an aggressive food industry, who, ironically, were starting to comply with these new policies."
The BBC reports that two-thirds of adults in the UK are overweight, and in children age four to five, 14% are obese, and 13% are overweight, according to the National Child Measurement Programme last year. This figure increases as children age, to 25.5% overweight age 10 to 11, and 15.4% being obese.
This was an increase of the previous year, with 9.9% of children aged four to five and 21% of children aged 10 to 11 being obese. The British Retail Consortium said the ban on multi-buy deals wouldn't make a difference as retailers have "moved away from these strategies" recently.
Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the consortium, welcomed the delay on adverting rules as "one less distraction" for companies looking to focus on keeping prices down.
In response to criticism, the Government has said it remains committed to tackling childhood obesity. Public Health Minister Maggie Throup said: "We’re committed to doing everything we can to help people live healthier lives. 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."