In the November 15 issue of the British Medical Journal, BMJ writer Adrian O’Dowd reported that TV Chef Jamie Oliver asked the members of the British parliament to hire a national Minister for Food to help tackle a growing obesity problem.
His appearance coincides with Jamie’s new TV series and campaign, Ministry of Food, which is all about getting people cooking again. He wants to show people that anyone can learn to cook – and that it’s fun, cool, can save you money and help you, your family and friends to live a healthier life.
Oliver, who was giving evidence to the parliamentary health select committee as part of its inquiry into health inequalities, said that the United Kingdom needs to make some profound changes in the next 10 years to tackle obesity and inequalities.
“Why isn’t there a minister for food?” he said. “Why isn’t there one person who comes from the private sector who is inspirational and all over the problem like a rash; who can inspire 50 or 60 people to inspire thousands of people in turn?”
“We are not in a great place, but we are in a place from which [the problem] can be easily fixed. If we leave it or don’t do enough in the next 10 years, we are going to be like America, where it almost becomes not worth it because it’s so ingrained.”
Oliver was convinced that people could be persuaded to eat healthier food. “Kids are not programmed to love nuggets and burgers in such quantity. It’s just that that seems to be the most consistent message, with commercial and big businesses being able to drive that,” he said.
The problem has been getting worse for decades, and the recession could make matters worse, he said. “We are in a recession right now and … financial pressure is being put on families. This is the first time in British history that we have a large number of people who cannot cook,” he said. “If you have knowledge about how to cook you will know how to buy efficiently and cheaply.” Having less money means that people rely on cheap takeaways and fast foods, he said.