COMMENTARY | Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution” began its second season Tuesday. In a reality-show format, the show aims to activate viewers to combat obesity in their homes and schools. According to his website, Oliver’s goal is to attack the epidemic of obesity, heart attacks, and diabetes through getting people to change their food habits.
The first season of the show was based in Huntington, W. Va., and came on the heels of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative. Obama, while acknowledging that simply having the government tell people how to be healthy may not be entirely effective, nonetheless created a website dedicated to the initiative, LetsMove.gov.
Both Oliver and Obama consider childhood as the starting point of obesity. Oliver claims that the children of this generation, because of obesity, will not live as long as their parents. The starting point for this claim is probably a 2010 study that suggested obesity begins in the womb.
Obama suggested things such as providing children with healthy snacks, doing regular physical activity with the family, and taking local political action to try to make neighborhoods more health-conscious.
A major drawback with Obama’s approach is that, in order for it to work, I would have to go to the website, which is not highly publicized; read the suggestions and actions plans; then figure a way to put those plans together for my family and our busy lifestyle.
This objection is probably why Oliver decided to try an aggressive approach. I’m not sure sitting in my living room, eating a big bowl of buttered popcorn, while watching his show is going to motivate me that much either. I tend to take a look at some of the people he targets and snicker, thinking “at least I don’t have that big of a weight problem.”
I am more in favor of the subdued approach taken by the government, however. It takes a personal decision to change your weight and your lifestyle. Oliver’s heavy-handed approach has, according to the L.A. Times, gotten him barred from going into the L.A. school system. The school system has allegedly changed its menu. Whether that is because of Oliver coming to town or not is a matter of speculation.
Such news might make me tune into the show because of curiosity, but I’m not so sure I would change my eating habits because of it. In fact, Newsweek reports that two months after the West Virginia show, many of the students were unhappy with their school food, and some even dropped out of the school meal program entirely.
Thus, for all its shortcomings, I would have to prefer the subdued approach. If I want to make a definite, long-lasting change, I need to be aggressive with myself, not have a school board or other government entity dictate food choices to me. Sure, it’s more work and requires greater discipline, but the result will be my choice.
Burt, Erin. “Let’s Move! A National Initiative to Fight Obesity.” Fitness Plus Magazine.
“Baby’s Weight: Is Epigenetics to Blame?” USDA.
Dailey, Kate. “Jamie’s Food Revolution: Did the Experiment Flop? Would We Listen if it Did?” Newsweek.
“Food Revolution Season Returns to ABC in April.” JamieOliver.com.
Stanley. T.L. “Is Jamie Oliver’s ‘Food Revolution’ behind LAUSD Menu Changes?” L.A. Times.