Boris Johnson’s not-so-new war on obesity

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson | Pool photo by Jeremy Selwyn/Getty Images

Boris Johnson’s not-so-new war on obesity

From ‘loony’ ideas to the PM’s policies.


7/27/20, 11:55 AM CET

Updated 7/27/20, 11:58 AM CET

LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday unveiled his plans to get Britain to slim down to beat the coronavirus — but he hasn’t always been a champion of the junk food crackdown.

Last year, before becoming prime minister, Johnson rubbished Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s plan for a tax on sugary milkshakes as part of “the continuing creep of the nanny state,” designed to “clobber those who can least afford it.” And in 2007, Johnson wrote over 1,000 furious words in a Daily Telegraph column on why putting health warnings on wine bottles would be a “loony” idea of “infantilising elf and safety madness,” urging readers to “fight, fight, fight” against the “insulting, ugly and otiose labels” being proposed by the Labour government.

Thirteen years later, Johnson is prime minister, he’s banning cut-price supermarket deals on unhealthy foods, and the “elf and safety labels” soon to be plastered across his favorite £125 bottle of Tignanello will be his own. Funny how things work out.

As part of his new obesity strategy, triggered by the pandemic, Johnson will also ban junk food adverts on TV before 9 p.m. and consult on whether a complete ban online is also required. Aside from banning shops from offering “buy one, get one free” deals on unhealthy foods,

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