You may know British chef Jamie Oliver from his TV show, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, which uncovered the dirty truth about unhealthy school lunches across America. What you may not know is that Jamie Oliver gave a TED Talk in 2010 about food problems in America. The crazy thing is that all of his points are still relevant today and still need to be addressed.
1. Diet-related diseases are super preventable
In 2010, when Jamie’s TED Talk aired, he noted that the leading causes of death were heart disease, cancer, and strokes. Today, the leading cause of death is still heart disease, with roughly 611,000 deaths every year.
Being overweight or obese is a risk factor that increases the chances of getting heart disease. By promoting health diet and lifestyle habits, these diseases and deaths can be prevented.
2. Schools should take responsibility
As of late, unhealthy eating habits are one of the things American students learn in school. Jamie pointed out that the lack of “proper crockery” (aka forks and knives) actually encourages students to eat handheld fast food, like hamburgers, pizza, nachos, hotdogs, and chicken nuggets. Many people might not think twice about the utensils in schools, but they really are a huge deal.
Jamie also pointed out that the milk schools serve is a major problem because it is loaded with sugar and flavorings. He demonstrated that the amount of sugar a student would ingest over five years (drinking two bottled milks per day at school) is enough sugar to fill an entire wheelbarrow.
This clearly needs to change. Milk is supposed to be a healthy source of calcium and protein, among other nutrients, not a beverage with nearly as much sugar as a can of soda.
3. Portion sizes are ridiculous
We consume an insane amount of food in this country. Many of us eat well over our daily recommended servings, which is a major issue for us in terms of calories, nutrients, and overall health and well-being.
Consuming too much of certain foods is incredibly bad for the body, while not eating enough can be similarly harmful. Portion control is something that we definitely need to work on as a country.
4. The triple threat to our lives
As Americans, our diet typically contains a lot of three things: fat, sugar, and salt. While all of these items can be good for the body in moderation, they are terrible when consumed in excessive amounts.
Fast food is one reason why the American diet is so high in these three dangerous ingredients. As Jamie pointed out in his TED Talk, fast food restaurants have hooked us on loads of fat, sugar, and salt by adding a ton of it to their menus. There are even some studies that have shown that sugar can be just as addictive as cocaine.
5. We spend a ton of money on obesity
As Jamie Oliver pointed out in his TED Talk, 10% of American healthcare bills are spent on obesity. This is more than the amount that we spend on smoking, and the cost may double by 2020.
Since obesity is often a preventable lifestyle habit, the amount of money we spend on obesity can be decreased by quite a bit by changes in lifestyle. Then the money can be put towards solving other important problems.
6. Food education for all
Schools are a place in which we can directly shape the future of our future leaders. The addition of salad bars in schools across the country would be an incredible influence on the health of students. Furthermore, food education is a topic that kids definitely need to be taught in schools.
During his show, Jamie Oliver went to an elementary school and quizzed students about the names of vegetables. The results were astounding. The kids thought tomatoes were potatoes, eggplants were pears, and couldn’t even tell him what potatoes look like. Jamie quickly fixed this problem in two one-hour sessions, which is completely doable in schools nationwide if we work at it.
America’s children need to know what goes into their bodies, and food education in schools would enforce that knowledge.
7. Big businesses should take action
One of the parts of his speech that Jamie really focused on was what others can do to help. He argued that if fast food restaurants were to gradually decrease their extreme use of fat, sugar, and salt, America and the rest of the world would be much better off.
Another way that big businesses could help out to fix the problem that we have with obesity would be to include nutrition information on the menus. By simply implementing some changes that would allow nutritional info to be seen while ordering, we could be more aware of what exactly is going into our bodies and make the change to a healthier option.
8. We can take action
You’re probably thinking, “This is super cool and something I should totally help out with, but I’m just one person. I can’t make a difference.” That’s definitely not true. There are a few ways you can join the fight against obesity, specifically Jamie’s. There is a petition to sign, a newsletter to read, and your school could even participate in a Food Revolution Day.
And if none of that interests you, or if you’d like to do more, eating healthily and encouraging others to do the same is the best thing you could do for yourself and those around you. It’s so crazy that this information from 6 years ago is still extremely beneficial today and how much taking his advice could help the health of our country.