Sunday, 27 November 2011

I’m Sorry I’ll Misread That Again

Apparently we have a dilemma in this country. We are both starving to death and yet at the same time eating ourselves into the obesityrecord books.
The news about the middle classes turning to food charities and co ops has a major clue in the description: Middle Classes!
Those of us who watch frankly too much television will have noticed the growing trend for arts and crafts, homemade and home grown, even as far as some fools building their own houses (home grown home?) . The overriding thing that sticks out through all of it is the fact that people can afford to mess up, to a certain extent. If you rent your own home, work for just above minimum wage and live on your overdraft limit, packing everything in and starting up as a self sufficient small holder isn’t possible. Making your own Christmas presents with help from the local W.I. isn’t cheap alternative is you’re using silver clay at ‘just £15 per key ring’.
Essentially, those people who are turning to food banks are there because they can’t afford the organic free range farm produced Fennel infused Manuka Honey they are used to, not because the price of Tesco Value Spaghetti Hoops has gone up again.
Surviving a recession isn’t just about changing your budget; it’s about changing your mindset too.
The obesity item has some obvious points but also hides the underlying truths that belie the headlines.
Many older women have worked in dull repetitive jobs, in factories and supermarkets, jobs that involve sitting a lot, repetitive muscle action and until recently almost always allowed smoking as a means of relieving the boredom. As any athlete will know, if you stop using those muscles, however big or strong they are, they will change into fat or loosen up to the point that the skin can’t return to size, resulting a lot of the time in what we commonly call ‘bingo wings’ and more. Legs that have been pressing a machine pedal or over forty years won’t just return to those slim shapely pins of youth.
Add to this the very fact that during their working careers these women are also raising children, often alone. Fast food is getting cheaper and those value hoops are an easy option.
If you can get a few hours each week to take up an exercise class just to vary the muscles you use or a couple of mornings or half days off work each week to prepare and freeze some proper home cooked meals, maybe one day a week to keep an allotment where fresh fruit and vegetables can be grown, there would be less risk of adult obesity.
But why, specifically, are we so high in female obesity?
Simply put, men have more opportunities to jobs with more variety. The wages offered to manual workers on production lines is usually the lowest level. It is often referred to as ‘pin money’ or an extra income to boost the main wage, traditionally from the male earner but much less so now. Factory work such as this is also usually flexible hours which makes it more suitable for workers who have school age children, again traditionally female staff. So, poor diet, repetitive jobs and responsibilities at home are all factors that I believe lead towards high female obesity figures.
Why the United Kingdom?
The United Kingdom was once a world leader in so many fields that involved manual labour. Manufacturing, building, fabric mills, and mining were all jobs which favoured stockier stronger builds. As times changed, populations grew that threw up a genetic dominance for the stronger, shorter person. When those jobs and careers declined, those people stayed and continued to breed. People built to swing heavy hammers and load carts were finding themselves stacking shelves, operating tills and working long shifts in call centres.
Yes, the same changes have happened in other countries, other careers and other cultures but we once ruled an Empire that we fed with those factories are still there but they don’t have such a dominance of fast food or rather unhealthy fast food outlets. They have climates maybe more suitable for outdoor exercise or perhaps it is just that they have a history of better diets.
Anyway, I’m no expert and my views may be so far off track but they are just my views.