Why are Brits Fat?
Why are Brits Fat?
According to the UK government, Brits are the fattest people in Europe. Newspaper reports point out that up to 75% of British adults are now overweight or obese.
As Andrew Anthony fairly notes in The Guardian (The heavy price of seeing food as a commodity) it seems strange that a country âhardly renowned for its gastronomy should eat more than, say, Italy, home of delicious food and carbohydrate-rich pastaâ. Moreover,
[o]ne of the most striking inversions of the 20th century, in the west at least, is that at its outset, corpulence was a sign of wealth, and thinness a symptom of poverty, and by its close the opposite was true. Nowadays, in the era of mass-produced, additive-saturated food, obesity is most often found among the poor.
That seems counterintuitive; in fact it’s alimentary, my dear Watson. There is, however, a mystery. If, as all economic indicators suggest, Britain is getting wealthier, why are we also getting fatter?
One of the most infallible markers of a nation’s wealth and health is its average height. As the wellbeing of a nation improves, so its average height increases. But while the rest of Europe is growing upwards, we, like the Americans, are growing outwards. Researchers suggest that the reason for this discrepancy may lie in the widening gap between rich and poor in the US and the UK, compared with the more equal distribution of wealth on the continent.
The problem with this analysis is that the spread in obesity is not restricted to the poor alone. If healthy food produces healthy appetites there must be many more than just the poor who are eating unhealthily in Britain.
Chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver may have become part of popular culture, but the food they produce has not. Whereas in most other parts of western Europe it does not require much money to eat well, in Britain good food is still the preserve of a minority of expensive restaurants and specialist retailers. If the price of eating unhealthily is death, then the cost of eating well is still killing.
The debate surrounding our inflating girths necessarily covers all manner of social issues from the paucity of school playing fields to the sedentary influence of computers and television. But what it must ultimately come down to is our attitude to food. We need to consume less and savour more.
It would help, of course, if we had food to savour. The argument that says obesity is simply a lifestyle choice would make much more sense if there were a genuine choice of lifestyle. In culinary terms, the options currently on offer on the high street are not just poor, they’re as cheap as chips and twice as fattening.
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Via Harryâs Place