Sunday, 6 May 2018

Sorry Hugh, there is nowhere in England where people can't buy cheap fresh vegetables

And they're off again on the food deserts line - all as part of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's mission to lecture the life out of us about being chubby (and doubtless shift a few books while getting well paid to front a dire TV series):
When Julie, who collared me on the very first day of filming in Newcastle, took me to Church Walk in Walker, where she grew up, I began to get another insight into the problem. If you played a game of Hunt The Fresh Vegetables in this part of town, you could be looking for weeks.
This is the food desert lie. It has been around for a while - poor people are fat and ill because there are no shops selling fruit and veg on the corner. It is rubbish. Here's a handy little map showing why:

That's right folks - this terrible place with no fruit and veg is less than two miles from a massive ASDA super store. There's even a convenient bus service.

The rest of Fearnley-Whittingstall's argument is equally crass, featuring as it does the usual 'shoot the messenger' rubbish about advertising, a slew of snobbish nonsense about fast food takeaways, and an utterly ignorant reference to evolution. Even without the map, we know that the food deserts argument is rubbish because people have done the research:
When examined in a multi-level modeling framework, differential exposure to food outlets does not independently explain weight gain over time in this sample of elementary school-aged children. Variation in residential food outlet availability also does not explain socioeconomic and racial/ethnic differences. It may thus be important to reconsider whether food access is, in all settings, a salient factor in understanding obesity risk among young children.
This is from Helen Lee of the Public Policy Institute of California and, unlike Fearnley-Whittingstall's TV nonsense it's peer reviewed research in a top journal. She found that not only was there no link between child obesity and exposure to different sorts of food outlets but most poor communities had more choice and variety than upscale communities. If the kids are fat (and we can argue the point here) they're not fat because their mum can't buy a cabbage.


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