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    UK Obesity Crisis: 'A Social Problem' - Academic

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    Food philosopher claims Britain's obesity epidemic is fuelled by poverty not gluttony and the response by public policies is "pitiful."

    According to Dr. Martin Cohen, a visiting research fellow in philosophy at Hertfordshire University, "obesity is not just a matter for nutritionists: rather, it is a product of social inequality and requires a collective social response," he writes in The Conversation. "The tragedy is that obesity is usually treated as a problem and responsibility of individuals or families — not as a social problem."

    In England, the most obese area is Brent, which is also the ninth poorest part of England, meanwhile Richmond, is one of the slimmer councils. Dr. Cohen draws on statistics published by NHS England which reveal that over a fifth of reception children [aged four] were overweight or obese.  In year six [aged 10] it was over a third.

    According to the NHS 'Key Facts:' "The prevalence of obesity has increased since 2014/15 in both reception and year six…Obesity prevalence for children living in the most deprived areas in both age groups was more than double that of those living in the least deprived areas."

    READ MORE: Out of Dickens: UK Falls Behind Other Rich Countries on Child Inequality

    According to the UK Government's Health Select Committee, the NHS in England spent US$7.14 billion in treating people suffering with ill health as result of being obese or overweight in 2014/15. The total cost to society is estimates to be between US$37 billion and US$64 billion per year.

    The same report calls on the government to extend the so-called sugar tax, the soft drinks levy to milk based drinking containing extra sugar.

    The UK Government Response to the House of Commons Health Select Committee report on Childhood obesity, provides further evidence for the link between obesity levels among people living in poor areas of Britain. "For example the obesity prevalence among children in Reception living in the most deprived areas as 12.7 percent compared with 5.8 percent among those living in the least deprived areas," the report states.

    "Obesity is a leading cause of serious diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. These conditions incur a huge cost to the long term health and wellbeing of the individual, the NHS and the wider economy." 

    More than 400 schools across England have 20 or more take-away food outlets within a 400 meter radius, according to Cambridge University's Center for Diet and Activity Research. Meanwhile schools in London have on average six fast food shops within 400 meters of their classrooms.

    The Trussell Trust, the UKs biggest foodbank links hunger to poverty having carried out research on who uses its services the most. According to its Early Warnings, Universal Credit and Foodbanks report, people who had issued with their benefit payments frequently turned to the foodbank for sustenance.

    A report by the Trussell Trust, Oxfam, Child Poverty Action Group and the Church of England found that foodbank use was linked to 'immediate, acute financial crisis — either a complete loss of income.

    READ MORE: Want to Live Longer? Get Rich, UK Academics Suggest

    Related:

    Mind The Gap: London's Rich Get Richer, Poor Get Poorer
    Over 25% of Children in UK Live in Poverty - Charity
    'Blitz' on Poverty or Bulldozing Welfare? UK PM Wants 'Sink' Estates Gone
    Hard Times: UK Will Have 14 Million Living in Poverty by 2030
    Tags:
    child obesity, rich, obesity, poor, poverty, Church of England, Oxfam, United Kingdom
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