Jamie Oliver has clarified his controversial breastfeeding comments, made during an interview with LBC radio in March this year.
The soon-to-be father of five said that Britain has a ‘problem’ with breastfeeding, urging for support for women to breastfeed more and anywhere.
‘We need to support the women of Britain to breastfeed more, anywhere they want to. If you breastfeed for more than six months, women are 50 per cent less likely to get breast cancer. When do you ever hear that? Never.’
The celebrity chef said that tackling breastfeeding is just as important as the sugar tax for children’s health in Britain, adding that breast milk is ‘better’ and ‘easy’ – and this is where the controversy arose.
Many mothers who had struggled to breastfeed hit back at Jamie, taking particular contention with the use of the word ‘easy’. ‘I desperately wanted to breastfeed but had to stop at six weeks,’ one listener said, while another added ‘What does he think we have been doing? We didn’t know what to do with our nipples until Jamie Oliver popped his head above the parapet. Who doesn’t know that breast milk is best for their baby?’
Jamie with son Buddy, the youngest of his four children
Speaking to The Pool at the launch of his new cookery school, Jamie responded to the backlash, explaining that by ‘easy’, he meant that women ‘didn’t have to go and buy something or sterilise something’, rather than the act of breastfeeding itself being easy.
‘If I ever do anything [to campaign for breastfeeding], and I’m not saying I am or will, I’ll do it right. And that’s about supporting mums to feed, regardless of what they choose to do – bottle or boob,’ he said.
‘More importantly, there is an inner workings to why and how these things have happened over the past 20 years… We have some of the worst breastfeeding in the world and I definitely don’t want to [condemn] mums, but if you support them right, it will sort itself out. There are patterns that I don’t like that disempower women regardless of their choice.
‘Some women have got really good networks of support, whether it’s family or whatever, and some have got nothing. And it’s like all the other types of statistics: if they’re from a disadvantaged background, and certainly if they’re young, there’s a real lack of help there’.
Jamie is expecting his fifth child with wife Jools
In his original LBC interview, Jamie stated, ‘when you care about child health you can’t just look at one thing. The sugary drinks tax is interesting purely because you are getting your hands on the horns of big business who are usually telling government what to do.
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‘But if you really care about it, it’s really big, wide, diverse and things like breastfeeding are at the epicentre of the problem. Data from breastfeeding tracks into all sorts of things from stunting to obesity to ill-health. We have the worst breastfeeding in the world. The breastfeeding formula industry has a history of doing things in not such agreeable ways.’
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