TV chef Jamie Oliver is launching a global petition calling for all children to be given food education
The father-of-four says it is “shocking” that worldwide obesity has doubled since 1980.
His petition, which is running on the change.org website, urges the governments of G20 countries, which includes the UK, to give youngsters practical food education in schools.
Written by Oliver, it says: “I urgently need your help to make a real difference.
“We’re currently facing a global obesity epidemic, with 42 million children under the age of five either overweight or obese across the world.
“The bottom line is the next generation will live shorter lives than their parents if nothing is done to rectify these alarming stats.
“So I’m asking that you to do two simple things – first, please sign this petition to show your support for compulsory practical food education in schools across the world, then, most importantly, share it via your social networks.”
In 2005, he led a campaign to improve school dinners in the UK, making sure they offer a selection of healthy food.
In England, practical cookery lessons are now compulsory for schoolchildren in England up to the age of 14.
His petition has been launched ahead of Food Revolution Day, an initiative spearheaded by the TV chef, which takes place on May 15.
It also comes in the wake of new research which suggests parents of obese children hardly every spot a problem.
In a study of almost 3,000 families in the UK, only FOUR parents described their child as very overweight.
That is despite 369 of them being classified as such according to government guidelines.
The researchers, writing in the British Journal of General Practice, said obesity had become the “new normal” in society.
Levels of childhood obesity have increased in the UK over the last few decades.
A third of 10-11 year olds and a fifth of 4-5 year olds are now categorised as either overweight or obese.
Around one in five children in Year 6 is obese and a further 14 per cent are overweight, the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) shows.
The NCMP measures the height and weight of around one million school children in England every year, providing a detailed picture of the prevalence of child obesity.
Experts said the study showed the “enormity” of the obesity epidemic.
According to researchers from the NCMP overweight and obese children are also more likely to become obese adults.
They also at increased risk of developing health problems such as asthma, Type 2 diabetes and musculoskeletal problems.