The poor are more likely to be obese, says health minister
Death of the dinner table means more eat junk food in front of the television
01:55 GMT, 23 January 2013
02:05 GMT, 24 January 2013
Anna Soubry says parents should ensure children have proper meals
Poor families are more likely to be obese, a health minister has said.
Anna Soubry said children were suffering because of an ‘an abundance of bad food’ in their homes.
She also said it was ‘deeply ironic’ that in the past poorer youngsters used to be ‘skinny runts’ because they were so malnourished.
The minister said it was ‘almost possible’ to guess a person’s background by their size.
It is not the first time she has risked embarrassing the Government with her frank remarks. Last September, weeks after taking up the post, she backed assisted-suicide and said it was ‘appalling’ people had to go abroad to end their lives.
Speaking at an event in London hosted by the Food and Drink Federation, the MP for Broxtowe, near Nottingham, said parents had the ‘primary responsibility’ of ensuring their children ate properly.
She said: ‘It is a heartbreaking fact that people who are some of the most deprived in our society are living on an inadequate diet. But this time it’s an abundance of bad food. When I was at school you could tell the demography of children by how thin they were. You could see by looking at their eyes.
‘When I go to my constituency, in fact when I walk around, you can almost now tell somebody’s background by their weight.
‘Obviously, not everybody who is overweight comes from deprived backgrounds but that’s where the propensity lies.
‘Where I am in Nottingham, there is a Sainsbury’s and you see children going in there buying take away food, a sandwich, but more likely a packet of crisps, a fizzy drink, and that’s their breakfast.’
She said on her way to work at Westminster she saw parents buying children cheap, fat-laden buns for breakfast. The ‘whole concept’ of getting up in the morning in time to eat a proper breakfast had disappeared, she added.
Miss Soubry, 56, also warned that a culture of TV dinners had eroded family life with many households having dispensed with the dining table entirely. Mealtimes provided structure in children’s lives and would discourage them filling-up on crisps and fast-food, she added.
The MP says the death of the dinner table has led to soaring obesity rates amongst children – particularly poorer ones
Latest NHS figures show that a third of 11-year-olds are overweight or obese, three times higher than in the 1990s.
Experts warn these children are condemning themselves to a life-time of ill health and will be far more susceptible to strokes, heart attacks and diabetes.
Miss Soubry said people could lose weight just by cutting out 100 calories a day.
People turn to high-calorie foods that will keep them satisfied longer when times are hard, a study claimed yesterday. In trials, those faced with a recession-like scenario consumed nearly 70 per cent more food than another group in a neutral situation.
Further, when the same group primed with ‘tough times’ messages was told the food they were sampling was low-calorie, they consumed roughly 25 per cent less of it.
According to researchers from the University of Miami this is because if people perceive that food resources are scarce, they place a higher value on food with more calories.