Britain’s Fat Fight With Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Ep 1/3

Wednesday 25 April



Britain is already the most obese country in Western Europe, and if current trends continue, more than 50 per cent of us will be obese by 2050.

Two-thirds of us are already overweight or obese, and there’s no doubt that our poor diet and lack of exercise is slowly killing us, as well as crippling the NHS. After smoking, obesity is the next biggest cause of premature death in the UK.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is on a mission to try and do something about this health crisis. In this new BBC One series, he is going to challenge some of the biggest food companies and restaurant chains to be more honest about what they are selling. Hugh’s going to ask the Government what they’re doing to tackle this crisis. And he’s going to see if it is possible to change the eating habits of a whole city by challenging the people of Newcastle to lose 100,000lbs in a year.

Bad eating habits start when we are children, and to prove it, Hugh asks a group of seven-year-olds to do the weekly supermarket shop without their mums and dads. Unsurprisingly, most of the kids head straight for the cereal section, where they pick from any number of brightly coloured, highly sugared breakfast cereals. But do their parents realise how much sugar is in the boxes? Hugh challenges the big brands over their lack of transparency when it comes to their cereal labels. All the supermarket own-brand cereals carry traffic light labelling, which clearly shows in red, green or amber how much sugar is in the box, so why don’t the market leaders?

In Newcastle, Hugh kicks off his ambitious project to see how much weight a city can lose over the course of a year. But after launching Newcastle Can in the city centre, passerby Julie stops him and tells him that he is talking to the wrong people. If he really wants to make significant change, he needs to go and talk to people who live in the more deprived parts of the city, to understand the challenges they face.

Hugh also meets Jonny, who wants to lose weight but is addicted to snacking. This encourages Hugh to look at the increasing number of retailers who are tempting us into buying sweet treats on the go. Many of the major supermarkets have committed to stop selling confectionery at their checkouts, so why are other types of shops still doing it? Hugh sets up a replica of one chain’s confectionery laden checkout in a busy shopping street.

Produced in partnership with The Open University.