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I'm not a fun-basher. Have a Coke at the cinema for a treat, but not in the home; EXCLUSIVE: FIONA PHILLIPS CHATSTO JAMIE OLIVER ON THE EVILS OF SUGAR.

Let's get this out of the way first: I love Jamie Oliver. My two teenage sons love him too. It's just about the only thing we agree on, apart from the obvious merits of Jose Mourinho.

I am not alone in my admiration. As I walk to find Jamie I'm pounced on and bear-hugged by Gennaro Contaldo, the legendary Italian chef who put him on the path to culinary greatness.

"He's very special," Gennaro tells me. "It's why I like to be a father figure to him."

It's because Jamie is a father himself now - to Poppy, Daisy, Petal and Buddy - that he is angry about the devastating damage over-consumption of sugar is wreaking on the nation's health.

But even when he's cross, Jamie is adorable. When I sit down with him for our exclusive interview, following the press launch of his forthcoming Channel 4 documentary Sugar Rush, he is angry.

"I can't believe how upset and angry I am," he says, having spent weeks witnessing and filming the life-changing effects of a sugary diet. The problem is massive. Sugar is packed full of energy - and therefore calories. If we don't burn all that energy off it's stored as fat. Excess sugar also plays havoc with the liver and with insulin levels, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

It was concern about my sons' consumption of fizzy sugar-laden drinks and sweet junk food that led me to work on my BBC1 documentary The Truth About Sugar.

I ask Jamie if he had the same problem with his tribe. "No, it just doesn't exist in their lives," he answers. "Wait until they're a 10% drinks ," at teenagers," I chip in. "Yeah absolutely," he agrees, clearly not knowing what horrors are heading his way.

"Now, though, the only chance they'd get to be exposed to that would be on holiday on a beach, to be honest, although my wife wouldn't have it because she's stauncher than me.

"I don't mind a Coke on a beach, just don't have it at home. Have it at the cinema, as a restaurant treat, but not in the home."

I'm still reeling at the lessons Jamie tax on sugary was introduced learned on his sugarbusting travels. For instance in Mexico, where diet is dominated by high-calorie processed foods and sugary drinks, huge amounts of Coke are drunk because quality water is scarce - and has almost become a holy water.

It's no coincidence that Type 2 diabetes is Mexico's leading cause of death and its health system is collapsing. In 2014 a 10% soda tax was imposed, resulting in a 10% fall in fizzy drink consumption and health costs being cut by PS780million.

This autumn Jamie will put a 10p tax on sweet soft drinks in his restaurants, with proceeds going to school food education. He has held talks with the Prime Minister about imposing a sugar tax.

Jamie says it's urgent and adds that "a rocket up the Government's a*** is a good thing". David Cameron has said he is averse to such a levy but Jamie tells me he thinks including a sugar tax as part of an obesity strategy would be an important Cameron legacy. "We had a conversation like two fathers and that gives me hope," he says.

I'm hopeful too. After all, Jamie has always been the master of making good things seem cool. Did I tell you I love him?

In his documentary there are shocking scenes - reducing Jamie to tears - of Mario, a fiveyear-old fizzy drink fan, weeping after an operation to remove several teeth. The dental surgeon says he now routinely takes out 20 teeth at a time.

There are disturbing hospital tales of bin-liners full of legs and toes following operations to have them amputated due to the effects of Type 2 diabetes.

A colossal 7,000 amputations a year are performed in England alone because of the condition - dwarfing the 300 carried out on war injuries.

These are just some of the reasons why Jamie has launched his own battle against the food industry - in particular over fizzy drinks, which have no nutritional value whatsoever. "Doing nothing is unforgivable," he says. So, nothing is exactly what he's not doing.

"I've seen the future in America, which is the prognosis for us looking seven years ahead," he goes on. "I know people here aren't happy generally. You only have to scratch the surface and there's an auntie, an uncle, a cousin with diet-related disease problems.

"In America, in the communities I've worked in, it's far more advanced, like a stain of depression on everyone's life.

"You'd struggle to find anyone who hasn't been affected by the illness of a mother, father or grandparent detrimentally affecting their holidays, their lives, their fun - just general happiness."

Diet-related illness, Jamie reckons, is "slow, miserable, painful and depressing". And then, before we both get too depressed and feel a sweet treat coming on, he jumps in: "I'm not being a fun-basher. I think kids should have candy-floss at the fair but not a machine in their own home."

It makes me think of that unopened chocolate-fountain machine lying in my kitchen cupboard. I must take it to a charity shop.

P.S. My 13-year-old son has just walked through the front door with a Sainsbury's carrier bag full of fizzy drinks and sweets. "I've been speaking to Jamie Oliver," I rather proudly announce. "He thinks the same way I do about sugar." "Oh God, not him too." "Yes, him too - you need to watch his documentary. Perhaps you'll listen to Jamie."

We all should. Especially a certain Mr Cameron.

features@mirror.co.uk

Diet-related diseases are slow, miserable, painful and depressing JAMIE OLIVER on the threat to uk health ," at PS780m Amount saved in health costs in Mexico after a 10% tax on sugary drinks was introduced

CAPTION(S):

TARGET Jamie will tax fizzy pop

I LOVE YOU! Admirer Fiona with Jamie

SHOCKED Jamie sees an op on a sugar lover

BITTER SWEET Jamie tells Fiona of his war on sugar
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 28, 2015
Words:1010
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