As children growing up in the 1950s and early ’60s, we were often oblivious to the struggles mum and dad had in making ends meet. Dad was a bricklayer and mum worked part-time in a cutlery factory, neither of these industries was known for paying high wages.
Our family lived in a two-bedroom house in Arbourthorne and although we didn’t consider ourselves poor, we knew we weren’t well off because most of our goods were secondhand. We may have been short of luxuries, but what we didn’t lack was good homecooked food. Meat and potato pie, stews, home baked cakes and apple pies were a good part of not just our family’s diet, but also thousands of other working class families.
Back then obesity wasn’t a widespread problem and certainly not among children and yet a recent letter to The Star from a Doctor Bond makes the claim, among others, that poverty is the number one cause of obesity and that eating less and exercising more is not the answer. I don’t understand how Doctor Bond comes to the conclusion that people who are cash poor are also time poor.
If you are unemployed or working part-time then you may well be cash poor, but will almost certainly have time on your hands. The doctor uses this theory to back up his claim that people don’t have time to cook food using basic ingredients, patently not true.
Undoubtedly, obesity is fuelled by over consumption of high-fat foods and takeaways, but the reason people eat this stuff is not because it’s cheap, it very often isn’t, but because it can be extremely tasty. It is also convenient, you can have 6,000 calories delivered to your door with a phone call.
Doctor Bond’s idea that people on low incomes cannot afford to eat nutritious food is, I think, simply wrong. In fact, I don’t believe cost even comes into the equation. If people, whatever their status, want something then they will find the money.
There is no stigma attached to eating junk food and nor, increasingly, to being obese. If most people in your area are overweight, it becomes the norm.
I don’t doubt that Doctor Bond is a caring professional, but not once in his letter does he give the impression that he thinks the obese could do more to help themselves, rather that they are victims of outside agencies and vested interests.
It can be hard, but sometimes people have to take charge of their own lives, nobody else can do it for them.