British celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver was awarded the TED prize for “ideas to change the world.” His fight is reducing obesity in the US. Included in his suggestions are four points to improve obesity policy within the country:
• Every child in the U.S. should learn to cook 10 meals before leaving high school.
• Supermarkets should appoint “food ambassadors” to explain to customers how they can prepare local, fresh and seasonal foods.
• Food companies should make education a central part of their business.
• Food labeling should be improved to accurately warn people about unhealthy food. He called America’s current food-labeling system a “farce.”
His final point about food labeling is the most interesting to policy makers. Pepsi recently announced their support for putting labels more predominantly on the front of their packaging. Coca Cola claimed support over this effort last year.
But the question for policy makers is whether industry efforts are enough. There are certain efforts that need an extra push from policy makers; a good example is calorie counts at fast food restaurants. In the Senate health care reform proposals there is a national law to require calorie labeling in fast food restaurants. There has been a great deal of argument as to whether or not these measures curb the use of unhealthy food. Oliver’s suggestion of improved labeling
Additionally, Jamie Oliver has a rich history of working to combat obesity in his native UK. He raised awareness of the health of the school lunch program and urged the government to invest a substantial amount of money into the program. Hopefully, his previous efforts can be combined with Michelle Obama’s new campaign to fight childhood obesity to create stronger school lunch programs for our nation’s kids.