The celebrity chef said the plan to axe junk food adverts before a 9pm watershed, which has been put on hold for a year, was key to protecting child health. Ministers are also deferring the ban on buy-one-get-one-free deals for foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar in England for 12 months so they can review the impact on family budgets.
The move was welcomed by the industry and by some Tory MPs but has left health campaigners shocked.
Mr Oliver, 46, posted: “We know there’s a vital need to protect child health and make sure the next generation doesn’t suffer from diet-related disease. Policies like restricting junk food advertising to kids are crucial for levelling up and popular with the public.
‘Parents kids more “This is a wasted opportunity and it starts to erode the whole obesity strategy – which at some point looked progressive and world-leading “Parents and kids don’t want to hear any more excuses from the Government.”
The delay was also criticised by former health minister Lord Bethell, who said failure to tackle the “obesity crisis” would simply add to the strain on the NHS.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today show: “I am concerned that it will blow a hole in the obesity strategy. That has a massive follow-on effect on all of our health targets.
“More people are getting cancer due to obesityrelated effects. All of this illness that is caused by [being] overweight from junk food is being carried by the NHS and the taxpayer.”
But Tory MP Esther McVey said she is delighted by the rethink and argues the measures should be permanently abandoned.
She said: “Thank goodness common sense has prevailed, for how on earth in a cost-of-living crisis could the Government be banning ‘get one free’?
“People need to be free to make their own choices.”
The Department of Health and Social Care said the ban on multi-buy promotions will now take effect in October 2023 and the ban on pre-9pm adverts will be moved back to January 2024.
Public health minister Maggie Throup said the Government is still committed to ending obesity, adding: “Pausing restrictions on deals like buy-one-get-one-free will allow us to understand its impact [amid] an unprecedented global economic situation.”