SIRC Media Watch Archive
Comment and Opinion – March 2004
Poverty and obesity. Coverage of obesity in the British press has doubled in the past year and threatens to become an 'epidemic' in its own right. It is almost impossible to pick up a daily or Sunday paper without being exposed to headlines featuring words such as 'time-bomb' and ill-founded assertions that the present generation of children will die before their parents. The sounds of wringing hands and admonishments to eat 'properly' have become almost deafening … Amidst this disoriented casting around for culprits and simple solutions, driven hard by media hype, it was refreshing to read in the Observer a thoughtful article by David Smith that for once dealt with some of the real issues underlying the rise in obesity — poverty and disadvantage. It has become fashionable to believe that in the modern Blairite Britain such features of British society have are no longer with us — that we are all now 'middle class' and that the old social and economic distinctions that were once an intrinsic feature of our culture have been consigned to history. Not so, sadly, for the people of Glasgow's East End where life expectancy is around 60 and falling and where the average diet is about as unhealthy as it can get. Obesity is but one of the symptoms of the impoverishment that plagues their lives. Full article.