Jamie Oliver: Sugar and salt taxes could 'allow vulnerable to realise potential'

15 July 2021, 15:46 | Updated: 15 July 2021, 15:55

Jamie Oliver on a potential sugar and salt tax for food.

By Tim Dodd

Chef and healthy food campaigner Jamie Oliver tells LBC proposed sugar and salt taxes will allow the 'most vulnerable to truly realise their full potential.'

The conversation comes as a a tax on sugar and salt and vegetable prescriptions by the NHS is suggested by an independent report as a way to tackle obesity

The medical community has backed the words of warning in the National Food Strategy's review which state what we eat, and how it is produced, is doing "terrible damage" to the environment and health, contributing to 64,000 deaths a year in England and driving wildlife loss and climate change.

Mr Oliver supported the ideas in the report, telling LBC: "One thing is for sure, we can't do what we've done for the last 20 years, and the government absolutely need to set some precedence. 

"There's that fine line between Nanny state and having a good nanny, because no one wants to have an abusive nanny, right? 

"We don't want to take choice away from the British public, I don't believe in that at all, but definitely big companies globally need to reformulate."

READ MORE: Boris Johnson kills off sugar tax hours after report No10 commissioned recommends it

James responded: "That's the key word is it? This idea that you can actually change the recipes to make similar food but much healthier?"

Mr Oliver agreed "100%": "When we've set reformulation targets voluntarily, it really hasn't worked. When we look at the sugary drinks tax, it didn't impact the cost, everyone said it was a bad idea, I drove that one myself... it's taken millions and millions of tonnes of sugar out of the system, empty calories, and actually the industry is richer for it.

"You're always going to have big business saying 'it's more money on your bowl of cereal', but in actual fact the only reason those companies can state any health claims is fortification, which is nothing to do with the food, it's stuff added in."

Caller says his weight gain comes from 'needing a hit' of bad food

Read more: Brits to bask in 30C temperatures as heatwave returns

Mr Oliver continued: "The concept of choice is only if you've got one.

"The idea that any child can succeed in this country is a theoretical truth. But if you live in a poor area, which has massively more junk food advertising, which has massively earlier mortality, less educational attainment.

"Every British person does better if our most vulnerable cost less and more happy and productive.

"So for me personally, this is not just about food. It's about truth, and fairness, and allowing our most vulnerable to truly realise their full potential."

The independent report, commissioned by the Government in 2019, calls for a sugar and salt reformulation tax to cut their use in products and curb obesity, strokes and heart disease.

Money raised by the tax could be spent on addressing the inequalities around food, such as expanding free school meals to another 1.1 million children who need them, funding holiday activity and food clubs, and providing healthy food to low income families.

More James O'Brien

See more More James O'Brien

Sacked borders watchdog David Neal said the Home Office is 'dysfunctional' and needs reform.

'It goes to the very top': Sacked border watchdog slams Home Office and calls for reform after Cleverly row

Shahd Waleed is trying to leave Rafah with her parents and enter Egypt

'They want us to experience pain': Young woman trapped in Rafah with her parents tells of terror as Israel invasion looms

Sir Keir Starmer has defended comments he made about Margaret Thatcher earlier this month.

Starmer defends Thatcher comments as he says he ‘completely disagrees’ with former prime minister’s politics

A caller to James O’Brien’s programme has shared footage of the extraordinary destruction done to his newly purchased property just outside of Durham.

Property investor's shock at 'unexplainable level of damage' he discovered after buying new home

James Cleverly replaced Suella Braverman as home secretary on Monday

'I've spent more time with James Cleverly this week than with Suella Braverman in the last year', Sadiq Khan tells LBC

James O'Brien discusses Suella Braverman's 'destructionist' leadership style with a caller

'She's a destructionist': James O'Brien caller claims Suella Braverman governs like 'a five-year-old'

James O'Brien

'She definitely has something on him': Caller and James O'Brien debate why the PM hasn't sacked Suella Braverman yet

'A complete reset of the top' is needed says caller.

'We're being let down': There is a 'complete disconnection' between parliamentary and local Conservatives says caller

James O'Brien

'It's essential that people are able to protest peacefully against war', says James O'Brien

James O'Brien

Rishi Sunak 'almost physically moves away' from Suella Braverman in House of Commons debate, says James O'Brien

James O'Brien

'Suella Braverman succeeded - she's caused hate', claims caller after Home Secretary criticises pro-Palestine marches

'A fish rots from the head': James O'Brien caller reacts to claims of misogyny in Downing Street during Covid Inquiry

'A fish rots from the head': James O'Brien caller reacts to claims of misogyny in Downing Street during Covid Inquiry

'Ludicrous, bogus, nonsense': James O'Brien is astounded by Boris Johnson 'laughing at Italy' during the pandemic

'Ludicrous, bogus, nonsense': James O'Brien is astounded by Boris Johnson 'laughing at Italy' during the pandemic

James O'Brien on Dagestan

'It's a hatred as old as religion itself': James O'Brien analyses escalating anti-Semitism after Muslim crowd storms Dagestan airport

Carol Vorderman shocked about UK Poverty

'One million children are living in destitution': Carol Vorderman struggles to comprehend stark wealth inequality in the UK

Wes Streeting on dentistry

Wes Streeting invites the government to steal Labour's policy to solve 'dickensian' NHS dentist crisis

James O'Brien

'I think they're the loneliest voters in Britain', James O'Brien claims after Tories' double by-election defeat

JOB and caller Andy

Biden's visit to Israel is to show that the US stands 'unequivocally' with Israel says James O'Brien caller

JOB and Usman

Israel's current response will only 'strengthen' Hamas by rearing Gazans who seek revenge warns this James O'Brien caller

JOB on deaths in conflict

James O'Brien unpacks the 'controversial' feeling of being 'equally devastated' by Palestinian and Israeli deaths

JOB on starmer speech

Keir Starmer is using 'working class as the opposite of having a sense of entitlement', notes James O'Brien

JOB on HS2 promises

James O'Brien criticises Rishi Sunak's watering down of 'illustrative' Network North projects funded by HS2 cut

Sadiq Khan and James O'Brien

Sadiq Khan declares there is 'no place for anti-Semitism' in London as kosher restaurant in Golders Green attacked

James O'Brien on the challenge HS2 scrappage poses to Labour.

‘How much can Rishi Sunak knock down before Keir Starmer becomes Prime Minister?, asks James O’Brien

James O'Brien

Rishi Sunak is like an 'incontinent cat': James O'Brien slams Tories ahead of PM's Party Conference speech

JoB and Jeremy Hunt

Navy veteran deeply hurt by Jeremy Hunt's plans to clamp down on benefit claimants

James O'Brien on Tory tactics in the upcoming election.

Tories desperately seeking wedge issues is the 'only way' they will retain power in 2024, says James O'Brien

James and caller Mervin on knife crime

'I'd prefer you to go to jail than die': James O'Brien is left aghast by this caller's father's stance on knife possession

James O'Brien

James O'Brien ridicules those prioritising Labour's private school VAT plans over the cost of living crisis

James O'Brien

'I mean this is a novel': James O'Brien hears why this caller blames Labour for HS2 problems

James O'Brien

James O'Brien takes aim at uninformed 'idiots' criticising Keir Starmer for not wanting to diverge from EU rules

JOB on Rishi Sunak Bins

Rishi 'seven-bin' Sunak is lifting bans that 'don't exist', asserts James O'Brien