The Oliver Effect


As we have seen, the United Kingdom (Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) has been in an embattled state for many months over the question of taxing sugar, for the good of the people and the economy. In October, a television investigative team made noise about how the originally conceived law had been weakened.

The reporters said that the newly published draft of the legislation did not coincide with previous drafts, and definitely did not match up with what they had been led to believe. These are the elements that Channel 4 found had been eliminated from an earlier version of the new law:

— Forcing restaurants, cafes and takeaways to put calorie information on menus

— Making supermarkets remove junk food from around check-outs and the end of aisles

— Limiting buy-one-get-one-free and other multi-buy discounts of unhealthy foods

— Curbs to junk food advertising, including commercial breaks in and around popular Saturday night television programmes

This perceived watering-down (or gutting, depending on who was asked) of the grand plan drew criticism from many quarters, including (of course) rival politicians, anti-obesity activists, and doctors. During the excruciating process of trying to create this law, the medical sector has been heard from often, which is only fitting in a country where healthcare is widely available, even if not optimal. The taxpayers can’t afford to pay for all the illness caused by all the obesity, yet the taxpayers keep on getting fat.

Also, some of them get angry when the government, after an interminable wait, finally announces something touted as “ground-breaking” when in reality it barely shifts a spoonful of dirt. Most of the blame landed on Prime Minister Theresa May. Super-chef Jamie Oliver said the revised version “should go to the Trades Description Act” (the British version of “truth in advertising”) because although it was described as an action plan, there was very little action in it.

The New Canaanite described Oliver’s reaction:

He said that the so-called action plan was not worth the paper it was written on… He also criticized the timing of the release of the obesity plan, which was revealed at the same time as A-level results and while the Government was on its summer holiday.

Mr Oliver said: “It absolutely screams out ‘we don’t care’.”

Using such words and phrases as “travesty,” “unforgivable,” “terrible job,” and “same old bull,” Oliver had already told various representatives of the press that the Prime Minister’s toothless plan let down every child in the U.K. He has long been known as a champion of fitness who believes that “Doing the right thing is good business.” The tax on sugar-sweetened beverages was his idea, which he proposed last summer to then-Prime Minister David Cameron.

The celebrity chef allied himself with an organization called Sustain to present the government with a 100,000-signature petition for a soft-drink tax, which would compel the Parliament to at least discuss the matter. They actually gathered 155,000 signatures. This paragraph illustrates why so many Brits regard Jamie Oliver as a hero:

To demonstrate to Cameron that the tax could work, he implemented a 10-pence surcharge on sugary drinks in more than 45 of his Jamie’s Italian restaurants across the UK starting in mid-2015 and persuaded other restaurants to do the same. The fee has raised £170,000, which Oliver has donated to the health charity Sustain to run children’s health programmes.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Childhood obesity plan ‘watered down by government’, TV investigation claims,”, 10/31/16
Source: “Prime Minister Theresa May accused of U-turn on child obesity plans,”, 11/03/16
Source: “The Jamie Oliver diet: How the UK celebrity chef took on big sugar,” TheMalayMailOnline,com, 12/06/16
Photo credit: LeWeb14 via Visualhunt/CC BY

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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