Home Health news Prue Leith slams junk food ‘cartel’ for fuelling Britain’s ‘unstoppable’ obesity crisis and criticises ministers for not restricting sale of biscuits, cakes and crisps

Prue Leith slams junk food ‘cartel’ for fuelling Britain’s ‘unstoppable’ obesity crisis and criticises ministers for not restricting sale of biscuits, cakes and crisps

by Editor

Prue Leith has claimed the junk food industry is a ‘cartel’ that is ‘winning the war’ on Britain’s diets.

The Great British Bake Off judge criticised ministers for taxing junk food instead of restricting its sale.

And she warned the country faces an ‘unstoppable trend’ towards more obesity.

Pointing out that Britain is the ‘third-fattest nation in Europe’, restaurateur Prue slammed the government for lacking ‘the bottle’ to run a plan to reverse the effects of junk food.

The 84 year old said whilst some government task forces are ‘trying to change things’, the Exchequer is ‘happier’ when sugary foods are consumed because they are taxed.

The Great British Bake Off judge, Prue Leith, labelled the junk food industry a 'cartel' that is 'winning the war' in the UK

The Great British Bake Off judge, Prue Leith, labelled the junk food industry a ‘cartel’ that is ‘winning the war’ in the UK

Writing in The Oldie magazine, Prue said: ‘We are the third-fattest nation in Europe.

‘Only 10 per cent of us cook meals with fresh food at home, thousands of households lack a kitchen, half the children arriving at primary school cannot use a knife and fork.

‘Diet-related diseases kill more people than smoking.’

Prue said she is ‘by nature optimistic and an activist’ but feels as if she is losing the fight.

‘With me are thousands of dieticians, writers, chefs, charities, government task forces, think tanks and companies trying to change things’, she added.

‘Two years ago, Henry Dimbleby wrote a report for Defra, recommending a comprehensive workable plan for reversing the tide.

HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR BODY MASS INDEX – AND WHAT IT MEANS

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height. 

Standard Formula:

  • BMI = (weight in pounds / (height in inches x height in inches)) x 703

Metric Formula:

  • BMI = (weight in kilograms / (height in meters x height in meters))

Measurements:

  • Under 18.5: Underweight
  • 18.5 – 24.9: Healthy
  • 25 – 29.9: Overweight
  • 30 – 39.9: Obese 
  • 40+: Morbidly obese 

‘Needless to say, the government lacked the bottle to run with it.’

Leon founder Mr Dimbleby was the lead non-executive board member of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from March 2018 to March 2023.

During his tenure, he produced an independent review of the food system which included a number of recommendations, including a sugar and salt reformulation tax.

Seven in ten men and six in ten women in England are overweight or obese and almost 4million people in the UK are living with type 2 diabetes.

Meanwhile, one in six children are leaving primary school with rotten teeth, and tooth decay remains the most common reason for hospital admission in children aged between 6 and 10 years.

Prue said: ‘Yes, individual charities, such as Chefs in Schools, Sustain and Food for Life, do immense good, but they cannot outpace the unstoppable trend towards more junk food, more obesity and general ill-health.’

The restaurateur said the ‘unholy conspiracy’ we are all trapped in is that ‘junk food is almost irresistible’.

She added: ‘Anything deep-fried tastes great, and we are programmed to love sugar, salt, fat and high-calorie foods.

‘And ultra-processed foods – almost all manufactured products – tend to be soft, easy to eat and pretty addictive.

 

‘We eat it fast and immediately want more. Manufacturers know this and exploit it.’

Prue admitted junk food is ‘cheap to make and cheap to buy’, and highlighted how in the UK we spend ‘less per head on food’ than any other European country.

She continued: ‘Our government, not wanting to act like the nanny state, taxes food high in sugar rather than restrict its sale.

‘The more chocolate, ice cream and Coke we consume, the happier the Exchequer.’

Prue said what’s more is that the ‘anxious public’ is consequently fuelling a ‘tsunami’ of ‘supplements, diet books, health gurus, slimming products, diet regimes, personal trainers, surgical interventions, gyms, exercise machines and other magic bullets’.

She added: ‘Millions of people make their living from obesity.

‘Even doctors depend on diet-related disorders for a good chunk of their income.

‘And I’m paid to write about it. I hate to admit it, but this unwitting cartel is winning the war.’

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