Opinion: Why Jamie is still a health hero

Jools and Jamie Oliver. Credit : Ian West/PA Wire
Jools and Jamie Oliver. Credit : Ian West/PA Wire
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He started out as a cheeky chappie chef, with an Essex accent and annoying habit of declaring everything “pukka”.

But Jamie Oliver has since reinvented himself as one of the country’s most forthright health campaigners.

He’s taken on causes like school dinners and better teaching of cookery through his Ministry of Food centres across the country, including in Leeds.

His latest – and probably biggest – triumph came last week with the announcement of the forthcoming sugar tax.

Jamie had been pressing the Government to tackle rising rates of childhood obesity and he quite rightly celebrated.

So which health issue will the chef take on next? In an interview last week, he suggested it could be breastfeeding.

“It’s easy, it’s more convenient, it’s more nutritious, it’s better, it’s free,” he said.

But those comments sparked anger from some women, who took issue with him getting involved.

Jamie then clarified his words, saying he wanted to support women who can and do breastfeed.

“Childhood nutrition starts with supporting pregnant women properly and I expect Mr Cameron to also be including this in his childhood obesity strategy,” he added.

Jamie, whose wife Joolz has just announced she is pregnant with their fifth child, is right to point out that breastfeeding reduces the chances of a child becoming obese and should be praised for pointing this out, especially as the whole subject is controversial.

If he does use his influence on this front, it could go a long to improving public health in the cheapest way possible.

And that can surely only be a good thing.