Jamie Oliver pushing Justin Trudeau for action on childhood obesity

Celebrity chef and food activist Jamie Oliver, who is in Canada this week promoting his latest cookbook, says he has high hopes for a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about childhood obesity.

Oliver said he plans to discuss the marketing of unhealthy food to kids, taxing sugary drinks, and food education in schools, among other topics.

“Everyone’s watching your prime minister at the moment,” said Oliver in a Facebook Live in front of Toronto’s CN tower on Tuesday.

“Countries around the world are wondering what he’s going to do. The gossip is that he’s going to do something really, really good.”

Trudeau will meet with Oliver by phone Thursday, the prime minister’s office confirmed.

Justin Trudeau Saskatoon Jazz Festival

Oliver has cited the fitness of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, seen here running with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto last summer, as one reason he has high hopes for action on childhood obesity. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

‘Massive problem’ for Canadian kids

Nearly a third of Canadian children are overweight or obese, according to Statistics Canada. There has been some improvement in the figures for overweight children, but obesity rates have plateaued.

In Trudeau’s mandate letter to Health Minister Jane Philpott last November, he outlined plans to introduce new restrictions on marketing unhealthy food and beverages to children and improving food labels.

Oliver has expressed hope before that Trudeau — a “fit man” and a boxer — would make a “big brave bold” move on child health.

“Canada’s a huge country, hugely culturally diverse, but there’s some massive problems right now,” said Oliver.

“This is the first generation of kids expected to live a shorter life than their parents because of the kind of diet-related disease that we’ve got around us.”

The government is currently reviewing a bill introduced last week by Conservative Senator Nancy Greene Raine that would ban the advertising of junk food and sugary drinks to pre-teen children in Canada.

Oliver will be joined by Raine, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Diabetes Association at a Toronto event tomorrow pushing for new rules about marketing unhealthy food and drinks to kids.

In August, Britain unveiled a plan to tax sugary drinks, something Oliver’s Food Revolution campaign had lobbied them to do.

Trudeau’s government has also investigated the pros and cons of such a tax, according to documents obtained by The Canadian Press.

With files from Canadian Press

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