Why Jamie Oliver Protested The UK Government With Eton Mess

Obesity is a serious epidemic that the National Institutes of Health says affects the lives of children and adults — and the economies of developed countries on a global scale. In the U.K., managing the resulting health complications from 22% of men and 24% of women deemed clinically obese costs the National Health Service around £0.5 billion (or, in the U.S., $900 million). According to The Independent, the U.K.'s government implemented an anti-obesity initiative but recently delayed the roll-out of the strategy. This prompted Chef Jamie Oliver to stage a protest outside of the Prime Minister's residence with a symbolic dessert in hand.

Jamie Oliver has long been a major proponent in the fight against obesity, especially in children. He aims to cut childhood obesity in the U.K. in half by 2030 by creating access to healthy foods for individuals, promoting healthy eating habits in schools, and working with the government to curb predatory advertising techniques designed to push cheap, unhealthy foods and beverages.

Oliver was initially encouraged by his government's initiative to ban buy-one-get-one deals on junk food and to keep television advertisements for unhealthy foods off the airwave during the day. When the government suddenly reversed course, Oliver flew into full-activist mode.

Jamie Oliver uses sugary dessert as a symbol during his protest against obesity

According to The Guardian, the U.K.'s government chose to break its promise to fight obesity just as the epidemic in children posts its highest annual spike in recorded history, and Jamie Oliver isn't having it. The famous chef rallied supporters to gather outside of 10 Downing Street with a sloppy, sweet British dessert made with meringue, fruit, and whipped cream called Eton Mess (per Atlas Obscura). To Oliver, the sweet treat symbolizes the political disarray in a government that seems to support the unhealthy foods and practices that can lead to obesity and other chronic diseases.

The government reversed its anti-obesity plan that would ban junk food advertisements and big buy deals that passed through parliament only a month ago. The government scrapped the initiative supported by 74% of the surveyed public, citing an attempt to help businesses and balance the cost of living. However, the government's own research shows that multi-buy deals don't save consumers money, and television advertisements have no effect on the cost of living.

Oliver feels that government officials still have time to put children's health ahead of corporate and political agendas. The famous chef noted that upcoming health initiatives can't be taken seriously if the government can't even promote healthy foods and lifestyles with popular anti-obesity measures. After rallying supporters, he posted his thanks via Instagram and vowed to hold the government accountable and continue his fight against obesity.