Don't assume obese poor people lack willpower, says Jamie Oliver

‘The concept of middle-class logic doesn’t work’

Jamie Oliver attends a cooking demonstration at the Neff Big Kitchen on day two of The Big Feastival at Alex James' Farm on August 27, 2016
Jamie Oliver attends a cooking demonstration at the Neff Big Kitchen on day two of The Big Feastival at Alex James' Farm on August 27, 2016

People from disadvantaged backgrounds who suffer from obesity may not necessarily lack willpower, Jamie Oliver has suggested.

The celebrity chef voiced his views during the launch of a report released by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity about tackling inner-city childhood obesity.

Oliver also contributed to the report, explaining why children who live in poorer areas of London are more likely to lead unhealthy lifestyles.

“This city has one of the most vibrant food cultures on the planet,” he wrote.

“Our city’s food environment is also compromising our health, shortening our kids’ life expectancy, reducing productivity, costing taxpayers billions of pounds, crippling our healthcare service and widening the gap between the least and most disadvantaged people in our society.

“The obesity crisis affects us all, but tragically some London families and kids have less defence against unhealthy environments and junk food than others.

“London’s health and obesity lottery is a tragedy of design, caused by the unfair, unhealthy environments within our city.”

Oliver went into further detail, highlighting the different mindsets that people from more impoverished backgrounds often adopt and how this can impact their health in the long run.

“When you get trapped in the disadvantaged cycle, the concept of middle-class logic doesn’t work,” he told The Times.

“What you see is parents who aren’t thinking about five fruit and veg a day, they’re thinking about enough food for the day.

“Willpower is a very unique thing… We can’t judge our equivalent of logic on theirs because they’re in a different gear, almost in a different country.

“If you can only buy crap, you can only eat crap. And if only crap is discounted and Bogof’d [buy one get one free] that’s what we tend to sway to.”

Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, emphasised Oliver’s point that poorer people frequently resort to eating cheaper, unwholesome food out of necessity, as opposed to due to a lack of willpower.

“The anti-obesity crusade is largely a patronising upper middle-class reform movement,” he said.

“There is a huge element of food snobbery involved, which is why it is so appealing to celebrity chefs… It is bordering on the offensive to claim that people on low incomes have no willpower.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in