Henry Dimbleby's resignation needs to be a sharp awakening for the Government

21 Mar 2023

The resignation of Henry Dimbleby from his role as an adviser for the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs demonstrates the need for the Government to take concrete action on the issue of obesity within the United Kingdom.

We have seen a wide range of promises made by the UK Government to deliver a strategy to tackle obesity within the UK, but have consistently failed to see these materialise into meaningful action. Delays to the obesity strategy and the Government’s watered down food strategy fail to tackle the key issues facing UK diets today.

The BDA has tried to support the work of the Government on these issues. We supported parts 1 and 2 of the National Food Strategy Report in the hopes that this would form the basis of a comprehensive food strategy that would tackle many of the issues facing the UK today.

Much of the Government’s current National Food Strategy disregards the key arguments made by Henry Dimbleby and others in the 2021 National Food Strategy Independent Review. We’re disappointed that the outcome of this work has been slow and often lacking the decisive action necessary to truly tackle issues like obesity, malnutrition, and sustainability. This disappointment has been echoed by Henry Dimbleby who’s seen no other option than to resign as the current approach by the UK Government simply “makes no sense”.

There have been consistent delays on solutions such as a ban on pre-watershed junk food advertising and multibuy junk food packs. While we understand the Government’s hesitancy to crackdown on multibuy deals amidst the current cost of living crisis so as to not close down access to more affordable food, we do not accept that this is the best approach. It should not be that people are forced to purchase less healthy foods because they are the only affordable option made available to them. Instead, the Government must take action to make healthier alternatives more affordable for the UK public.

We need to see the Government take more concrete steps and hands on action to support the British people to be able to make healthier choices, particularly young children. That means implementing the obesity strategy in full and delivering a more robust national food strategy that better joins up Government work in health, food and industry ensuring more affordable, sustainable and healthy food.

Mr. Dimbleby’s resignation needs to be a sharp awakening for the Government on this issue. The BDA and its members are ready and willing to work with the UK Government to deliver the real change needed to tackle obesity and make our nation healthier.