From his school dinner initiatives to the brilliant Food Revolution, Jamie Oliver has always been a fervent advocate of food education and children’s health.
He has now taken the unprecedented step of imposing his own sugar tax. The levy aims to raise public awareness about the danger of too much sugar as well as the global rise in diet-related disease, such as obesity, tooth decay, type-2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. According to Public Health England, a third of 10-11 year olds and over a fifth of 4-5 year olds are overweight or obese. The money raised will help fund food education for children from nursery onwards as well as health initiatives.
From September, all soft drinks with added sugar will have 10p added on to every 330ml drink. This will cover all UK branches of the Jamie’s Italian collection, Fifteen London, Barbecoa, Union Jacks and the Jamie Oliver Diner.
“We know we are not alone in our concerns so will be reaching out to other restaurants groups across the UK, large or small and asking them to join us by imposing a similar levy. With the help of charity Sustain (www.sustainweb.org) a fund will be set up to support children’s food initiatives across the UK in a bid to stop the growing epidemic of diet related diseases amongst our children. The Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group will be making an initial donation of £25,000 to kick this off.“
Professor Mike Rayner, Chair of Sustain and Professor of Population Health at the University of Oxford added: “This is a hugely important and forward-thinking step by a restaurant group when it comes to a statement affecting public health and food education. If other restaurant groups follow this lead, we could be on the verge of making a big impact when it comes to reassessing our relationship with sugar. It should be a treat, not an every day means to hydrate children in particular.”
Jamie Oliver adds: “I am incredibly proud of my restaurant staff for getting behind and really believing in this levy. I was born into the restaurant industry and I truly believe that by joining together on this issue we not only send a powerful and strong message to government but we also have the potential to make a long-lasting legacy that could ripple across the world. Recently I’ve seen first hand the heart-breaking effects that a poor diet and too much sugar is having on our children’s health and futures. Young children are needing multiple teeth pulled out under general anaesthetic and 1 in 3 kids are now leaving primary school overweight or obese. Soft drinks are the biggest single source of sugar amongst school-age kids and teenagers and so we have to start there.”
You can find more information about the Children’s Health Fund here and add your voice to the campaign.