Belfast Telegraph

Jamie's suggestion the working class has so little self-restraint they must be protected from junk food ads is just demeaning

Food fight: Jamie Oliver has targeted the less well-off in his latest healthy eating campaign
Food fight: Jamie Oliver has targeted the less well-off in his latest healthy eating campaign

By Lindy McDowell

Here we go again. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who was recently reported to be downsizing his restaurant chain, is now back doing what he does best.

Lecturing the rest of us on nutrition and waist measurement.

Currently he's calling on London mayor Sadiq Khan to axe junk food ads on the Underground because poor people might see these tempting images and then go stuff themselves silly with buns and Big Macs and the like.

The deserving poor, it seems, are Jamie's new target for a fresh serving of patronisation with a large side order of pomposity.

He tells a newspaper: "What you see is parents who aren't even thinking about five fruit and veg a day. They're thinking about enough food for the day."

"Willpower", he adds, "is a very unique personal thing... we can't judge our equivalent of logic on theirs because they're in a different gear, almost a different country."

He makes working-class people sound like a different species. "If only c*** is discounted and Bogof'd (on offer as buy one, get one free) that's what we tend to sway to," he continues.

According to Jamie, approaches to healthy eating that work with the middle-class won't therefore work with the disadvantaged.

So quick, cover up those Whoppers and Snickers and Doritos commercials. That'll sort it.

There is indeed an obesity crisis among the young and, yes, research does show that the children of the less well off are at double the risk of their richer peers.

Something needs to be done. But is stripping the Underground of junk food ads really going to make a difference? And where does this end?

As Pringles fans know, once you pop, you can't stop. Next up, restaurant ads, Jamie. Besides - define junk food.

Many of the recipes suggested by celeb chefs are themselves laden with sugar and fat.

Mr Oliver has made a bit of a name for himself down the years as a healthy eating guru. Fair play to him, he succeeded in having Turkey Twizzlers, one of the major food abominations of all time, removed from the school dinners menu.

But rather tellingly, online today you can still find recipes for DIY twizzlers, described on one video as "the best thing about school back then".

People don't like being told what to eat, any more than they take well to being told what to think.

And suggesting that the working class are so incontinent in terms of self-restraint that they mustn't be exposed to take-away adverts on the Tube is demeaning and ludicrous. Besides which, food advertising is everywhere. And primarily it's on the telly and often it's Jamie Oliver himself, who now features on countless daytime channels chucking a handful of basil in here, a glug of olive oil there, all the while lip-smacking as he tastes his creations. "Oh, so good!"

That's not advertising junk food, he'll argue. But in a roundabout way, actually Jamie, it is. You watch a food show on television and it all looks yum, and next thing you're thinking to yourself: "I'm starving. Ring Deliveroo."

We've become nationally obsessed with food. Food critics analyse restaurant dishes as if they're critiquing Picasso. Recipe books fly off the shelves like cream cakes. But how much do we actually use them to cook from? As opposed to drool over before ordering pizza?

Jamie Oliver has launched endless healthy eating campaigns often roping in politicians to lend more gravitas. For a while there, he was in and out of Number 10 more often than even Boris is these days.

But the issue of obesity among the less well off is a whole lot more complex than just 'calories in'.

Disadvantaged children, for example, have less access to the many after-school activities - ballet, tennis, horse riding - that are de rigeur for the avocado-eating classes.

That said, there's an obesity problem right across the social spectrum.

But I don't think portioning it into working-class obesity and middle-class (less prevalent) obesity is the way to tackle that problem.

Any more than banning Tube ads for double cheeseburgers with mayo and bacon. And fries

Star Rachel’s a positive sign of the times

Quite rightly, actress Rachel Shenton has been praised for using sign language in her acceptance speech for the movie The Silent Child — a short and powerful film about a little deaf girl.

How the film (inspired by Rachel’s childhood as the daughter of a deaf parent) came about is a movie in itself.

We argue here about an Irish Language Act. Whatever your views on that, why don’t we teach, or at least offer, signing in all our schools?

What a communication skill that would be — for all of our children.

Storm brought shell on earth to Yorkshire

In the wake of Storm Emma, one of the saddest wildlife sights was from a beach in Yorkshire where the tempest had driven ashore, and marooned, a mammoth deposit of fish and shellfish.

According to a fisherman: “It was just like a war zone. There was every form of marine life; velvet crabs, lobsters, whelks, scallops, razorfish, Dover soles, cod, ling, wrasse and sand eels.”

Some of these poor creatures were still alive. Thousands of lobsters were being released back into the waves. Which seems like an odd thing to do if you’re only going to catch them later. And then eat them. Save the lobster!

Belfast Telegraph


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