Does social class determine obesity?


The amount of people with obesity has increased to an extent where 64.3% of adults are overweight – 28.7% of which are obese (30% of UK population). With this comes major risk factors to health such as several chronic conditions, including ischaemic heart disease, stroke, many cancers and type 2 diabetes. However obesity rates have been found to be largely related to deprivation and income. 38% of women living in the most deprived areas in England were classified as obese compared to 20% living in least deprived areas. More than 33% of adults who earn less than 11,500 pounds per year have obesity compared with 24.6% percent of those who earn 39,000 pounds per year. Does being of lower income/class increase your risks of being obese?


Numerous studies show that in many developed countries including the UK, income and othersocial inequalities may be the reason for the increasing obesity in children. “Forget going hungry… now poor children are fatter than rich kids,” reports the Mail Online which says the “trend ofwell-off parents having portly children has been reversed.” The rise in the availability of cheapjunk food high in sugar, often advertised to children and families, may affect disadvantaged children more. Fast food provides people with affordable access to the number of calories they need. With meals priced at $2, low income households can access food so they do not experience hunger. Sugar sweetened beverages and cakes, biscuits and sweets make up a substantial part of consumed free sugars. Other factors that may affect children’s weight includetheir access to safe spaces for outdoor play and exercise. Studies found that 4 million children in the UK are too poor to have a healthy diet – they struggle to afford enough fruit, vegetables, fish and other healthy foods that meet the official nutrition guidelines. The Eatwell guide defined the advised proportion of a diet relating to five categories: fruit and vegetables; carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice and pasta; proteinsincluding beans, fish and eggs and meat; dairy; and oils and spreads. England’s pooresthouseholds would need to spend 74% of their disposable income to meet Eatwell guidelines.


To conclude, obesity rates are not increasing due to more food being eaten but due to the small range of foods people from deprived backgrounds can eat. It is not a choice but more of a necessity to eat fast food.


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