Jamie Oliver has accused Theresa May of missing “a massive opportunity” to avert generations of obesity – saying she has delivered none of the policy substance or the fanfare promised by former prime minister David Cameron
The celebrity chef and campaigner said Mrs May’s childhood obesity strategy – criticised by doctors, health campaigners and politicians when it was released while MPs were on summer recess – was a watered-down version of the assurances her predecessor signalled.
Mr Oliver, who has previously championed campaigns on reducing sugary drinks and improving school dinners, will hit out at the Government’s plans on Channel 4’s Dispatches programme, broadcast on Monday.
The father of five said he made repeated efforts to help with the strategy – having been encouraged through several meetings with Mr Cameron – but felt his input was dismissed by Mrs May.
He said: “I have never met her, I have nothing against her, I wish her really, really well, I want her to be brilliant – but if you think that plan is amazing you would have put your name on it, and it wasn’t.
“If you cared about it you would have celebrated it as a moment of pride.
“The launch we would have done with Cameron would have been a ‘day’, communicate it with the wider press and celebrities to say why this was going to be brilliant and celebrate it with the next generation.
“(Mrs May’s strategy) was rubbish – none of that.”
Asked about the apparent snub, Mr Oliver said: “I don’t have delusions of grandeur. If you don’t think I wouldn’t rather be on the island of Sicily, cooking a nice little thing and doing some jazz hands for my living, I would be.
“I’m doing this because I’ve been touched and I have been exposed to things that really upset me in every town in every community.
“Any politician – if they can’t put child health at the heart of their policies, they are not fit to do their job – end of story.
“All I can see thus far is, this childhood obesity strategy shows a massive lack of understanding.
“I just think she doesn’t get it. Why did she not consult for a few more months?
“It’s not in Britain’s interests to have a PM in place that doesn’t get it.”
He said Mr Cameron was prepared to “stand up and be counted” in his commitment to tackling obesity. He added: “You don’t have that with Theresa and I think that’s the problem.”
Mr Oliver urged voters to contact their MPs and the Prime Minister over their concerns about the strategy, with the hashtag #TellTheresa trending during a question-and-answer session by the chef on Facebook Live on Monday morning.
He said: “Even if your view is that you don’t like me – that’s cool, I don’t expect you to like me, but you can trust me.
“I’ve been doing it for the last 11 years and I will continue to do it because I’ve only got your family’s health at heart. Tell your MP that Theresa hasn’t done enough for kids.”
A Department of Health spokesman described the Government’s published plan as “ground-breaking”, adding: “No other developed country has done anything as ambitious.
“The Government has intentionally taken a careful and measured approach which will reduce obesity.
“We are taking bold action through the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to cut the amount of sugar consumed by young people. Alongside this, our restrictions on advertising and promotion are among the toughest in the world.
“These steps will make a real difference to help reverse a problem that has been decades in the making, but we have not ruled out further action if the right results are not seen.”
The Secret Plan To Save Fat Britain, is on Channel 4 at 8pm.