image via Twitter
From September, all restaurants in the Jamie Oliver Restaurants Group will impose a “child health levy” on any soft drink with added sugar, with the much needed money raised going directly to fund food education for children and health initiatives.
The charity group, Sustain, will work with Oliver in setting up a fund to support children’s food initiatives across the UK in a bid to curb the growing epidemic of diet-related diseases amongst our children, such as tooth decay and diabetes.
Jamie Oliver said: “I am incredibly proud of my restaurant staff for getting behind and really believing in this levy. I was born into the restaurant industry and I truly believe that by joining together on this issue we not only send a powerful and strong message to government but we also have the potential to make a long-lasting legacy that could ripple across the world.
“Recently I’ve seen first-hand the heart-breaking effects that a poor diet and too much sugar is having on our children’s health and futures. Young children are needing multiple teeth pulled out under general anaesthetic and 1 in 3 kids are now leaving primary school overweight or obese. Soft drinks are the biggest single source of sugar amongst school-age kids and teenagers and so we have to start there.”
Professor Mike Rayner, Chair of Sustain and Professor of Population Health at the University of Oxford added: “This is a hugely important and forward-thinking step by a restaurant group when it comes to a statement affecting public health and food education. If other restaurant groups follow this lead, we could be on the verge of making a big impact when it comes to reassessing our relationship with sugar. It should be a treat, not an everyday means to hydrate children in particular.”
Simon Blagden, CEO of the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group said: “As a business we’re concerned about the increasing levels of diet-related disease in the UK, especially in children, and while we’re not against treats, we do feel that we need to take a lead when it comes to keeping our customers informed. A levy on these drinks allows us to send a message as well as raise money to help give children the knowledge to make better food and drink choices.”