Jamie Oliver’s message to ministers about the perils to children from sugar was not itself sugar-coated as he fiercely demanded a tax on the sweet stuff.
He told MPs on the House of Commons’ Health Committee that although ministers have indicated a tax will not be levied, he did not believe this to be the case.
It is estimated a 20% sugar tax could pull in up to £1bn a year which Oliver would like to see shared between primary schools and the NHS.
He exhorted MPs to be ‘big and bold’ and asked: “Who is running the country? The businesses who are profiting from ill health or is it us?”
However, the government is emphatic it has no plans to introduce a tax.
In a statement, the Department of Health said: “The government has committed to a tax lock to avoid raising the cost of living and to promote UK productivity and economic growth.
“The causes of obesity are complex, caused by a number of dietary, lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors, and tackling it will require a comprehensive and broad approach.
“As such, the government is considering a range of options for tackling childhood obesity.”
The strategy is scheduled for publication in the New Year.
Meanwhile, Oliver has introduced a ‘sugar tax’ in his own restaurants on soft drinks with added sugar.
He has also started a petition, which is edging the 150,000 mark.