Jamie Oliver takes children's diets bid to UN
Jamie Oliver has taken his bid to improve children's diets to the United Nations, demanding action on obesity as world leaders met in New York.
In an open letter to Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, the British chef and campaigner said "everyone" working in health around the world should have "the food education and knowledge of good nutrition to become front line advocates in the fight against obesity".
"You may not know me," he wrote, "but I have spent many years now working in schools and communities and talking to governments in the US, Britain and Australia, campaigning against the epidemic of obesity which is threatening the lives of our children."
Taking a leaf out of singer Bono's efforts against world poverty, Oliver has already started a global online petition supporting a "Food Revolution" demanding better school food and better "health prospects".
His campaign began with improving British school food and spread to the United States, where he filmed a television show in the most obese town in the country.
"People still don't realise that the problem is not just limited to rich countries, that worldwide being obese or overweight now causes more deaths than under-nutrition," he wrote.
The UN is staging its annual general assembly, when leaders from the world converge on New York. It held a rare high level session on non-communicable diseases, where Mr Ban urged a similar focus on global health as was given to the outbreak of Aids.
"Our collaboration is more than a public health necessity. Noncommunicable diseases are a threat to development," he told the meeting. "NCDs hit the poor and vulnerable particularly hard and drive them deeper into poverty."
Chronic diseases kill more than 36 million people a year and will cost the global economy nearly £30 trillion in the next 20 years, according to the World Economic Forum. The number of deaths could rise to 52 million per year in that time, according to the World Health Organization.
The UN's general assembly adopted a declaration recognising the economic and social burdens of chronic disease, without setting specific goals to reduce their impact.
"It brought a lot of attention to non-communicable diseases," said Professor KM Venkat Narayan, a public health professor at Emory University in Atlanta, who attended the meeting.
"What is missing is a commitment to action. Everybody is talking about what they have done so far. They are not talking about what needs to get done and what it will take."