August 29, 2010 -- A recent government study found that children who eat school lunches are more likely to become overweight. Jamie Oliver, celebrity chef, nutrition activist and an Emmy award-winning television personality desperately wants to change that.
"This Week" Anchor Christiane Amanpour chatted with Oliver to hear about his efforts at changing what children eat at schools in the U.K. and whether his strategies might work for kids in the U.S.
"It's all about food education," Oliver said. "I've been trying to focus my attention in the last seven years on tangible change -- stuff that gives you a really good value bang for your buck. And, you know, schools, to me, where your kids are 180 days of the year, often eating breakfast and lunch, seems like such an incredibly powerful way to make dramatic change, not just on what the kids physically eat, but also where they can be educated about food."
"It's not rocket science," he said, but "change is tough."
Oliver explained that "when you go into a school situation with lots of teenagers and you change their lunch, they want their chips, they want their fries, they want their burgers, their patties, their sloppy Joes. When you go in and you deconstruct it into proper food, you know, and bring in nutrient based food into that situation, of course there's uproar," he said.
"When you take away their French fries, it's like, you know, it's almost like messing with their religion," Oliver told Amanpour from London.
Oliver's efforts to change the menu in school cafeterias in Huntington, West Virginia, were the subject of the ABC's "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution."
"What we tried to do in the town was very simple," he said. "We took over all of the schools in the area. We took them from processed food to fresh food and as much local food as we could get. We did it on budget. And we worked with all the school cooks," he said.
Oliver, who rose to fame with his feel-good cooking show "The Naked Chef," said that Huntington had fallen in rankings from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from the most unhealthy place in the United States to the fifth. Across America, rates of childhood obesity have tripled since 1980, according CDC statistics.
So what did Oliver learn from his efforts in the United States?
"You know, for me, from what I've learned from America is if you can be humble in your approach, work with people and let them find this food revolution, I think they have the capacity to change more aggressively and better than any country in the world. I believe that. That's my belief," Oliver said.