It doesn’t seem to be a very popular thing to do these days but I picked up The Times recently and found myself agreeing with our Jamie.
Much of my time in recent weeks I’ve been reading doom and gloom stories about his restaurant empire so it was good to read something more positive. It seems to have become popular to criticise the self-proclaimed Naked Chef. I’m not a great foodie in general and I don’t watch his TV programs, so I’m something of an impartial observer, so I have to say that a lot of the criticism looks pretty harsh. He seems like a chap who wants people to eat better and be a healthy weight. His only crime seems to be that he’s got a £100 million in the bank and he’s now regarded as a bit of a media luvvie out to promote himself. I don’t know him but I doubt that’s the case at all.
There wasn’t much I could disagree with in his comments in the article.
His theme was that obese people who are poor should not be attacked for lacking the will power needed to change their diet and eating habits. This is exactly the same argument that Mr Richard Welbourn, one of the country’s leading weight loss surgeons, put forward in a Guardian article recently and I have also written about in this blog.
Jamie argues that middle class people lecturing the poor about what they should eat is totally missing the point. They have completely differing perspectives. If you don’t have much money for food, your biggest concern is feeding the kids, not whether they get their five pieces of fruit and veg a day. He’s right of course!
Jamie’s argument was focused on the profusion of cheap food and how it is advertised. He wants the government to take action on advertising on the tube.
I'd extend the argument further. There are poorer people in our society who often work like crazy to put food on the table. Many of them hold down jobs that involve unsociable hours and sometimes they have 2 or 3 different jobs to make ends meet. It’s not uncommon for me to meet people in our clinic who have 3 jobs and their obesity is related to this and the unconventional times of day when they eat.
We know that the poorer you are the more likely you are to be obese. This is a complex problem that is a function of the way our modern society operates. More single parents who have to spend more time working and with less time and money to feed the family in the healthy way they might like to all add up to a problem that a change in food advertising alone won’t fix, but perhaps we should cut Jamie some slack and applaud him for at least trying to do something.
Our country’s obesity rate touches upon all of us, whether through family members suffering with it, or through the higher taxes we’ll need to pay to fund care for the obese in the future. This epidemic affects us all. Good on Jamie Oliver for caring and speaking up.
Ref: The Times - Jamie Oliver: Obese poor think in a different gear