• Jayda Etienne

Obesity, Poverty, and The Price of Potatoes

Boris Johnson recently unveiled his Better Health Campaign in an effort to slim down the nation as links were made between contracting coronavirus and obesity. His plan includes…

At first glance this Better Health Campaign seems like a step in the right direction as almost 2/3rd of adults in the UK are overweight or obese, so these measures should encourage people to make healthier choices. But let’s consider sad truths. It’s no secret that fruit and vegetables are way more expensive than biscuits, sweets, and other unhealthy foods. Furthermore, recent studies show that obesity is most prevalent in children living the most deprived areas.

By placing calorie amounts on menus the government is suggesting that if we know how unhealthy our food is, then we won’t buy it - the idea that England’s obesity problem lies in personal responsibility. But what about people who don’t have the option to choose healthier foods because they can’t afford them.

If obesity is most prevalent in poorer areas of England, then it seems that the root cause of obesity is less about personal responsibility, and more about in-accessibility to healthier foods due to low income.

Like with many newly introduced government policies, The Better for Health Campaign had a lot of responses on twitter. Many people have been sharing their thoughts about obesity and how or if it truly links to poverty. The stand-out comment was from Annunziata Rees-Mogg who in response to someone highlighting the fact that fruit and vegetable are lot more expensive than a bag of supermarket chips which is maybe why struggling households are more likely to be overweight tweeted…

Tesco 1kg potatoes = 83p

950g own brand chips = £1.35

To me this perfectly sums up the conservative perception towards obesity and poverty, because while potatoes may only cost 83p, the idea that they extra 52p spent on ready-made chips is why poorer people are poor is crazy! Making healthier home-made chips requires time, ingredients, and facilities which cost far more than 52p.


Annunziata claims reflect the same misguided spirit of Boris’ Better Health campaign, which is the idea that everyone has the opportunity to consider the healthier option but instead chooses otherwise, when in fact for low income families there’s often no choice at all.

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