Jamie Oliver's Way Isn't Working, Says Health Secretary

27/12/2010 18:06 | Updated 22 May 2015

The new Government doesn't appear to be convinced by TV chef Jamie Oliver's method of tackling public health problems, such as childhood obesity.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley told doctors at the British Medical Association (BMA) conference in Brighton yesterday that people needed to take responsibility for their own health, with the support of Government, rather than being hectored into action.

Jamie Oliver campaigned for healthier school meals in Jamie's School Dinners. However uptake of the dinners has dropped

Mr Lansley said: 'If we are constantly lecturing people and trying to tell them what to do, we will actually find that we undermine and are counterproductive in the results that we achieve.'

He said Oliver's approach to school food had not had the desired effect - the number of children eating school meals had gone down instead of up.

'Jamie Oliver, quite rightly, was talking about trying to improve the diet of children in schools and improving school meals, but the net effect was the number of children eating school meals in many of these places didn't go up, it went down.

'So then the schools said: 'It's OK to bring packed lunches but we've got to determine what's in the packed lunches, we've got to decide what's in the packed lunches.'

'To which the parents' response was that they gave children money and children are actually spending more money outside school, buying snacks in local shops, instead of on school lunches.'

He said that then people had said shops near schools must be banned.

'Actually, where do we end up with this?', he said.

Mr Lansley said the consumption of things like salty foods could be brought down but none of this would work unless people's behaviour changed.

'We've got to understand this is a behaviour-change programme we're engaged in and if behaviour doesn't change, the likelihood is we will fail.'

Jamie's battle against Turkey Twizzlers started a national debate about the quality of school food in 2005.

But Jamie has reacted angrily: 'To say School Dinners hasn't worked is not just inaccurate but is also an insult to the hard work of hundreds of thousands of dinner ladies, teachers, headteachers and parent helpers who strive to feed schoolkids a nutritious, hot meal for 190 days of the year.

'I'll post him a copy of the series as he's clearly never seen it.'

There was a sharp drop in the number of children having school meals after the 2005 campaign revealed the poor quality of the food given to children.

However, the most recent figures for 2008/09 show a slight increase in uptake.

Some 43.9 per cent of primary school pupils and 36 per cent in secondary schools are having school dinners.

What do you think?

Have your attitudes to feeding your children changed since Jamie started his campaigns?

Have you had enough of healthy eating lectures now?

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