Blog: Can you tell a poor person by their weight?
Chris Mercer | 23 January 2013
Public health minister Anna Soubry has cooked up a mini-storm for herself by suggesting in a conference speech that she can identify poor people by their weight.
Anna Soubry's performance at the Food and Drink Federation's 'delivering healthy growth' conference yesterday (22 January) is in danger of being overshadowed by some rather presumptuous remarks that came mid-speech.
After describing how, several decades ago, one used to be able to pick out malnourished children at school by looking at their red-rimmed eyes, she then went on to describe the obesity epidemic blighting the poor today.
"You can almost tell somebody's background by their weight," she went on to say. You could hear the journalists' pens scribbling.
"We are now facing the prospect of a generation at risk of dying prematurely, not because they are malnourished, but because they are overweight and eat the wrong types of food," she continued.
"The primary responsibility lies with the individual," she said, adding that parents, in particular, must do more.
Of course, there is some evidence that obesity has a higher prevalence among lower-income households. Fast food chains are generally much more prevalent in deprived areas, too.
But, obesity is also a problem that affects those in the aisles of Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.
Her comments also come at a time when emergency 'food banks' are springing up all over the country, feeding growing numbers of working families who are struggling to feed themselves.
In a nutshell, food and health is a very complex issue. To suggest, then, that poorer households can be picked out of line-up on the basis of their weight was a pretty clumsy thing to do.
She may well come to regret it.
The plethora of food manufacturing associations in the UK has been argued by some to be an impediment to the industry coming to a coherent position on the aftermath of Brexit and on what the sector sh...
An update on Amazon's plans for the grocery sector. The usually reticent retailer has this week poured cold water on claims it has plans for 2,000 physical grocery stores....
Ask any FMCG executive to list the trends shaking up the sector and digital and e-commerce will be pretty high on the list. Drill down into that and Amazon will be one of the subjects in the digital s...
Since Theresa May took over as UK Prime Minister in the wake of the country's referendum vote to quit the European Union, she and her ministers have been at pains not to divulge their negotiating posi...
- The key questions for digital strategists in 2017
- Unilever 2016 investor day - the top takeaways
- Wessanen's move for Spain's Biogran - analysis
- Burger King, Jollibee: foodservice focus, Nov 2016
- Whole Foods, Aldi, M&S - retail round-up, Nov 2016
- General Mills jobs to go in business revamp
- Verlinvest, China Resources invest in Oatly
- B&G acquires pasta sauce group Victoria Fine Foods
- Tyson sets up US$150m investment fund
- Japan's Nagatanien buys Chaucer Food Group