Prue Leith slams the junk food cartel for fueling Britain’s ‘unstoppable’ obesity crisis and criticizes ministers for failing to restrict sales of biscuits, cakes and crisps

Prue Leith has claimed the junk food industry is a ‘cartel’ that is ‘winning the war’ against British eating habits.

The Great British Bake Off judge criticized ministers for taxing junk food instead of restricting its sale.

And she warned the country is facing an “unstoppable trend” towards more obesity.

Restaurateur Prue pointed out that Britain is the ‘third fattest country in Europe’ and slammed the government for lacking ‘the bottle’ to implement a plan to reverse the effects of junk food.

The 84-year-old said that while some government task forces are “trying to change things”, the Treasury is “happier” when sugary foods are consumed because they are taxed.

British Bake Off judge Prue Leith branded the junk food industry a ‘cartel’ that is ‘winning the war’ in Britain

Writing in The Oldie magazine, Prue said: ‘We are the third fattest country in Europe.

‘Only 10 percent of us cook meals at home with fresh food, thousands of households have no kitchen, half of children arriving at primary school cannot use a knife and fork.

‘Diet-related diseases kill more people than smoking.’

Prue said she is “naturally optimistic and activist” but feels like she is losing the battle.

“With me are thousands of dietitians, writers, chefs, charities, government task forces, think tanks and companies trying to change things,” she added.

‘Two years ago, Henry Dimbleby wrote a report for Defra recommending a comprehensive actionable plan to turn the tide.


Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height.

Standard formula:

  • BMI = (weight in pounds / (height in inches x height in inches)) x 703

Metric formula:

  • BMI = (weight in kilograms / (height in meters x height in meters))


  • Under 18.5: Underweight
  • 18.5 – 24.9: Healthy
  • 25 – 29.9: Overweight
  • 30 – 39.9: Obese
  • 40+: Morbid obesity

“Needless to say, the government didn’t have the bottle to deal with it.”

Leon’s founder, Mr Dimbleby, was the lead non-executive board member of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from March 2018 to March 2023.

During his tenure he produced an independent review of the food system, which included a number of recommendations, including a reformulation tax on sugar and salt.

Seven in ten men and six in ten women in England are overweight or obese and almost 4 million people in Britain suffer from type 2 diabetes.

Meanwhile, one in six children leave primary school with rotten teeth, and tooth decay remains the most common reason for hospital admission in children aged 6 to 10.

Prue said: ‘Yes, individual charities such as Chefs in Schools, Sustain and Food for Life are doing enormously well, but they cannot outpace the unstoppable trend towards more junk food, more obesity and general poor health.’

The restaurateur said the “unholy conspiracy” we’re all trapped in is that “junk food is almost irresistible.”

She added: ‘Anything fried tastes delicious, and we are programmed to like sugar, salt, fatty and high-calorie foods.

“And ultra-processed foods – almost all manufactured products – are often bland, easy to eat and quite addictive.

‘We eat it quickly and immediately want more. Manufacturers know this and take advantage of it.’

Prue admitted that junk food is ‘cheap to make and cheap to buy’, and highlighted how in Britain we ‘spend less on food per capita’ than any other European country.

She continued, “Our government, not wanting to act like a nanny, taxes high-sugar foods instead of restricting their sales.

‘The more chocolate, ice cream and cola we consume, the happier the treasury.’

Prue said the “anxious public” is consequently fueling a “tsunami” of “supplements, diet books, health gurus, weight-loss products, diet regimens, personal trainers, surgical procedures, gyms, exercise machines and other magic bullets.”

She added: ‘Millions of people live from obesity.

‘Even doctors depend on nutrition-related conditions for a large part of their income.

‘And I get paid to write about it. I hate to admit it, but this ignorant cartel is winning the war.”