The government is deepening the obesity crisis by allowing flagship academies to lower national nutritional standards, warns Jamie Oliver.
The celebrity chef claimed academies had been allowed to ignore national standards and some were ‘profiteering’ through junk food sales from vending machines.
In an interview with The Observer, Oliver accused Michael Gove, secretary of state for education of “playing with fire” in allegedly allowing standards to drop.
“This mantra that we are not going to tell schools what to do, just isn’t good enough in the midst of the biggest fxxxxxg obesity epidemic ever,” he told the Sunday newspaper.
Luck or chance
The public health of 5M children should not be left to “luck or chance”, he said.
Urgent action was needed to remedy soaring obesity rates – particularly among the young, Oliver continued. The current generation of children was the first to contain some who were expected to die before their parents duet to obesity-related illness.
“Tell me, Mr Gove, Mr Lansley [health secretary], how do you plan to change that? What is in your arsenal? The fact is, they are doing nothing.”
But last week, Lansley said: “More had been achieved to improve public health in the past two years than in the previous two decades.”
Speaking at the Food and Drink Federation President’s Dinner, one year on from the launch of the Public Health Responsibility Deal (PHRD), Lansley said: “The test [of the PHRD] is to achieve more, more quickly by voluntary action that would be achieved by costly and intrusive regulation. There is no doubt we are achieving that.”
Meanwhile, a contributor to The Guardian’s website, signing himself Jamted, wrote yesterday (April 22): “Even if he [Gove] clings to the idea that academies and free schools should teach what they like, there’s no justification for exempting them from national nutritional standards.
“Are they exempt from regulations on health and safety, insurance, building standards etc?”
No one from the Department for Education was available for comment.
Earlier this year, Paul Gately, professor of exercise and obesity at Leeds Metropolitan University, said focusing resources on the seriously obese would do far more to reduce the £5.1bn that diseases associated with obesity cost the NHS each year.
Of 30M children in the UK, 4.5M were overweight and of these, 2.5M were obese, said Gately.“140,000 of them are so obese that if they were adults, they would immediately be eligible for surgery. There are no services for that whatsoever. That is quite frightening.”
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