A number of reasons are put forward as to why the nation has, in its entirety, become a population of fat lardbuckets. Big Food pushes ever more unhealthy comestibles upon us, advertising to children is for some reasons still allowed, there's no tax on sugar, or fat, we've even got those who insist that inequality causes obesity. Of course, all these reasons come with their own solutions: we should ban advertising to children, or of "unhealthy" food, or reduce inequality or something. As Chris Snowden shows in his latest little report (The Fat Lie)all of those reasoned proffered are simply wrong:
If we look at the average body mass of English adults since 1993, we see a steady increase from 72.4 kg to 77.4 kg (Figure 7). This seven per cent increase contrasts sharply with the data from DEFRA which shows a decline in domestic calorie consumption of nine per cent in the same period (Figure 8). If we confine ourselves to the period 2002-12, for which we have solid data for food consumed inside and outside the home, we see the same ‘paradox’: an increase in average body weight of two kilograms coinciding with a decline in calorie consumption of 4.1 per cent and a decline in sugar consumption of 7.4 per cent.
Britons are eating fewer calories than we all used to. What is causing the increase in weight is that we're all also doing less physical labour than we used to. The imbalance between calories consumption and expenditure is growing but not the total amount of calorie consumption. We've thus got under-expenditure of calories, not over-consumption of them.
Note that if we are all consuming fewer calories this does then mean that if Big Food has been trying to get us to eat more they've failed and failed dismally.
It's also worth noting one more thing, that inequality argument. This should really be turned on its head: it is greater equality that is to blame here. There's always been a certain calorie richness, calorie density, to the British working class diet as compared to its middle class (or even upper) equivalent. This made perfect sense back in the days of heavy manual labour. We now have much greater equality in the workplace, there's very few of us making a living from the exercise of our muscles rather than what's between our ears. And that greater equality has had a larger effect on those still eating that culturally calorie dense diet than it has on those whose diet adapted to less physical labour earlier.
It is still possible to point out that it's the poorer among us who are the lardbuckets. But this isn't the result of ineq1uality at all, it's the result of greater equality in the workplace, in all of us now expending fewer calories in pursuit of our daily bread.