Why We Mustn't Give Up on Jamie; Doing Away with the Junk Meals: Chef Jamie Oliver Proves That Healthy School Dinners Can Go Down a Treat but His Work Needs to Be Backed by Government Policy to Ensure That Children Learn to Enjoy Good Food

The Evening Standard (London, England), October 16, 2007 | Go to article overview

Why We Mustn't Give Up on Jamie; Doing Away with the Junk Meals: Chef Jamie Oliver Proves That Healthy School Dinners Can Go Down a Treat but His Work Needs to Be Backed by Government Policy to Ensure That Children Learn to Enjoy Good Food


Byline: MARK PORTER

HEALTH SECRETARY Alan Johnson has said the threat from obesity is "onthe same scale as global warming"a threat that has overtaken smoking to become the single biggest avoidablepublic health hazard in this country.

Yet while the powers-that-be have imposed Draconian regulations to tacklesmoking, they seem reluctant to do the same for obesity. And time is not on ourside.

Obesity is linked to a host of life shortening complications ranging frompremature heart attack and stroke, to breast cancer and diabetes. And as a GP,I am already witnessing the knock-on effects.

When I qualified in the Eighties, late onset (Type 2) diabetes was somethingthat happened, as the name suggests, to the middle-aged and elderly. In thepast year I have diagnosed it in two of my patients in their early twenties,and met another who developed it in her late teens. All are seriouslyoverweight and their long-term future is bleak. There is a good chance thatthese three will go to their graves before their parents.

The prospects of a snap election may have receded but the next time ourpoliticians go to the hustings they have a duty to ensure that their manifestoscontain plans to reduce the weight of the nation. Here are 10 points I wouldlike to see included.

A bigger emphasis on individual responsibility. I know there are myriad reasonswhy someone might be more prone to a weight problemfrom an underactive thyroid to the wrong set of genesbut in the grand scheme of events they pale into insignificance when comparedto appetite and activity levels. The simple truth is that people who have aweight problem eat too much and/or do too little. And unless they are preparedto admit this, no amount of external intervention is going to fix the problem.

Parents of overweight childrenparticularly pre-school childrenshould be told that it's largely their fault. But they are part of thesolution, as well as the problem.

If the Government is serious about addressing the issue then it must be seen toact, and schools are the logical target. …

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