UK TV chef Oliver brings food campaign to Australia

Mon Nov 8, 2010 2:39pm EST
 
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SYDNEY (Reuters) - British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver launched his "Ministry of Food Australia" scheme on Monday, aiming to teach people "down under" how to cook and eat more healthily.

Oliver won over critics and fans when he set out to improve British school lunches in a 2005 television series and then followed up with a healthy eating drive across Britain through his "Ministry of Food" campaign, which set up regional centers to teach people how to cook healthier food.

Earlier this year he took his TV series to the United States, and announced he would take his Ministry idea to Australia, where a government survey found a majority of adults were overweight or obese.

"Today will be a landmark day in the history of Australia's fight against obesity," Oliver said in a statement.

An Australian government survey conducted from 2007-2008 found that 61.4 percent of adult Australians were classified as either overweight or obese. The same was true of 25 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 17.

Experts blame changes in family life, the rise of convenience foods and a lack of food education in schools.

"When you know how to cook, you've got control over your life and health," Oliver said. "With the right sort of information and teaching, absolutely anybody can cook."

Oliver rose to fame through "The Naked Chef" television series, a reference to the simplicity of his recipes, at the end of the 1990s. He has since published a number of cookbooks and appeared in several other television series.

(Writing by Elaine Lies; Editing by Paul Casciato)