Government legislation and the organic sector fighting to turn the obesity crisis on its head

The recent watershed ban on junk food TV adverts is the latest of several indications that Britain is experiencing a healthy eating revolution, according to some experts.

The announcement from the government is aimed at tackling the obesity crisis that the UK has struggled with since the 1990s and today affects two-thirds of the UK population.

Contrastingly, it also comes as the percentage of consumers switching to healthy organic food alternatives increased for the seventh consecutive year.  

According to statistics from The Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra), there was a 12% increase in certified organic land across the country, a trend which has been observed since 2014, and which highlights the ever-growing popularity of organic produce in today’s modern diets.

Harrison Jones is the owner of frozen organic food company, Equals Health, and he says that this news is just the latest in a string of evidence that the UK is embracing healthy food more.

“I believe there’s been a definite shift in peoples’ attitudes to junk food over recent years. Consumers are asking more questions now: What’s in this? Where has it come from? How was it made? We simply don’t want to be unknowingly putting foods that are artificially coloured or chemically altered in our bodies anymore. That’s why organic ingredients are so important to me.

“I think this is a really positive step in the right direction. It goes far beyond obesity in my eyes, the over consumption of junk food affects our general health and wellbeing and has a big impact on our brain function and mental health.

Jones also believes that the pandemic-induced lockdowns and work from home culture that resulted have brought on a heightened focus on individual health alongside extra spending opportunities.

“When gyms and restaurants closed, we were all forced to change the way we act day-to-day. From doing workouts on Instagram Live or YouTube, to recreating our favourite restaurant dishes at home. We weren’t spending so much money in bars and restaurants at the weekend, and instead we were looking for ways to do the things that make us feel good at home.”

Despite the UK organic food market being valued at nearly £3bn, accessibility is regularly cited as an obstacle for those trying an organic diet. Equals Health is Jones’ answer to this obstacle, providing affordable, fresh organic meals that can be delivered to consumers’ doorsteps nationwide.

“It’s easy for people to fall into the cycle of relying on junk food, it’s often the quickest and most convenient option. Our meals are designed to be stored in the freezer and take just 7 minutes to heat in the microwave - that’s quicker than any Deliveroo order I’ve had.

The watershed ban is the most far-reaching change in regulation since the Soft Drinks Industry Levy - more commonly known as the ‘sugar tax’ - came into effect in 2018 and forced soft drink manufacturers to pay extra on drinks that weren’t reformulated to include less sugar. There has already been some preliminary evidence from figures like the British Medical Journal that the levy has had some success in lowering UK sugar intake.

Unhealthy eating has plagued the UK population for decades now, and with significant action from the government combined with the unlikely ally of a global pandemic, the UK is slowly becoming a healthier nation, one meal at a time.