Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution: TV & Food Ratings Both Down

The kids would rather eat pizza & chicken nuggets, go figure?

I am a fan of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on ABC.  His work to improve our health, particularly that of our children, is just about the most important work I can think of.   That being said, he has hit a couple of snags.

Viewership Down

His viewership dived from 7.5 million the first week to 4.325 million a decline of 43%.   Although it’s typical to have a drop-off from a premiere this was particularly steep.

The Kids Don’t Like the Food

In addition a new study came out last week calling in to question the success of the school lunch program in Huntington, WV.

The Health Research Center of West Virginia University surveyed 109 4th and 5th graders as well as teachers and cooks at Central City Elementary.  77% of the students said that they were “very unhappy” with the new food program.  The average participation rate of the students was 75% two months before Food Revolution entered the school and dropped to 66% participation two months after Food Revolution had been implemented.  The study also noted that milk consumption went down by 25% after the flavored milks were removed from the cafeteria.

Finally nutritional analysis of the lunch program showed the food was not meeting USDA guidelines.  Total fat content over a week long period was 31.24% when the target is no more than 30%.  The saturated fat was high was well, coming in at 12.87% when it shouldn’t be over 10%.  The study did note that calcium, Vitamins A and C, and iron were all well above USDA standards.

The Teachers Do Like the Food

When the teachers were surveyed a different story emerges.  The teachers tasted no appreciable difference in the flavor of the food, rating the before and after meals from Food Revolution about equal.  They did perceive the meals to be much more nutritious though.

The Cooks Didn’t Like It Either

The six cooks interviewed (one has to wonder if Alice Gue was one of them …) said that the prep time took about an hour more per day. 83% of the cooks rated the pre-Revolution meals as good or excellent, only 50% of the cooks rated the Revolution meals as good and the other 50% rated it as fair or poor.

My Thoughts

So what happens when you take breakfast pizza away from the kids and hand them fruit?  They complain.  Does that mean we should cave to the little darlings and hand them back their greasy, processed piles of goop?  No!

The fact that the teachers saw no real difference in the quality of food to me says the kids just wanted to eat what they were used to regardless of the health effects.  Also worth noting, the fat content was a bit above USDA guidelines but 1) the cooks might not have been following the recipes as closely as they needed to and 2) there was no similar nutritional analysis of the pre-Revolution food.  I’m wondering how close those entrees came to the guidelines?

As for the additional prep time, well that makes sense.  We can either pop a frozen dinner in the microwave and nuke the sucker for 4 minutes or we can take extra time to prepare fresh food, perhaps 20 to 30 minutes, and cook a more nutritious meal.

What are your thoughts?  Does Jamie Oliver’s plan have a chance in this country.  It took him four years to be successful in Britain, how long do you think it will take here?  Feedback is welcome.

Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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10 Responses to Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution: TV & Food Ratings Both Down

  1. Jason P April 6, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

    I think it will stick only if the adults stick to their guns and only offer the healthier plan.

    It will take time and will be tough but in the end it will only be a positive later on in life with less stress on healthcare and a happier and healthier population.

  2. Colleen April 6, 2010 at 11:51 pm #

    Keep at it Jamie. Keep at it Mrs. Obama. And we WILL keep at it as parents, purchasers of groceries, preparers of meals. This is VITALLY important to the future of America. Our kids (and our families in general) deserve to be healthier. We have to start with the food and remember to get moving as well. There is a revolution and it is on the move. You can’t stop us now!

  3. Ashley April 7, 2010 at 10:21 am #

    I think that unless the parents start serving the same healthy food at home, the kids won’t change their minds.

  4. rosecityqueen April 7, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    They need to get new cooks, ones that are supportive of the program. If the people serving the food are excited about so will the children.

  5. Maurice April 7, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    I think they need to stick with it. Change won’t happen overnight, and it’s not going to be easy, but as a parent who’s first grader has packed on nine pounds since eating the school lunches, even with an increase in activity and not a lot of upward growth, I think things need to change.

    The interesting thing is they say that kids are eating less. Well then, good. Less junk and less calories over all will not kill us in general. Absolutely, I worry about those kids who only get fed at the school, and I hope that they recognize that they need to eat the food there, even if it’s not those awful blended chicken carcass patties Jamie cooked up.

    Stick to your guns Jamie, you’re fighting the good fight!

  6. Maurice April 7, 2010 at 11:54 am #

    Oh, and I wanted to say, we let both my kids watch the show, and after seeing the first two episodes my daughter looked at us and said “Okay, I need to start packing more. And no more chicken nuggets.” :)

  7. Lisa Johnson April 7, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

    Maurice, that’s excellent to see a kid get educated about healthy food and want to change on her own. Good for her and good for you for showing it to your children.

    RoseCityQueen, I know that would be the easy answer, to fire the cooks and start over. They were certainly entrenched with the way “things are done” when Jamie first came onto the scene. I’d like to think that they’ll become more open as time passes. But this survey *was* taken 2 months after the show had stopped filming.

    Keep the comments coming, I love them! A great discussion.

    Lisa

  8. Domenick Cilea April 7, 2010 at 7:19 pm #

    Our country is lazy and addicted to convenience, hence the reason why so many people are overweight. Most of the food in our of schools are laden with excess salt, sugar and fat, offering minimal nutritional value, let alone taste.

    Additionally, the show exposes how nutrition in schools is being mandated by the USDA, making it very difficult for any school to be creative in their menu.

    Kids can change their eating habits. The problem, as evidenced by the show, is the politics in the kitchen and among the school leadership that are ignorant and don’t really have a clue on what fitness and nutrition really are.

  9. Kathy Barlow April 12, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    Hey Lisa,

    I agree with you and many others here that Jamie should stay at it and in many ways our system and attitudes about food are broken. Too bad about the ratings. I am enjoying the show and found myself cheering or jeering the people.

    I find it absolutely amazing that french fries are considered a vegetable and that kids were having pizza for breakfast.

    He definitely has to “get” to more of the adults in order to have this be a long-term success. Involving the pastor, the Senator, and the high-school cooks that were so much more cooperative than some of the others that are so stuck in their ways.

    Thanks for the post!
    –Kathy

  10. Steve April 17, 2010 at 8:43 am #

    I love Jamie’s approach. Imagine, eating healthy and saving money from not wasting it on junk food!

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