“It is often quite expensive and time-consuming to buy healthy food and that puts wealthier parents at an advantage.” This is a statement by Tam Fry (National Obesity Forum), when he featured in a BBC News article about childhood obesity. My question today challenges this idea that wealthier people have an advantage when it comes to buying healthy food. The BBC article went on to explain that wealthier parents have more of an ‘awareness’ about healthy eating as well as the money to finance it. I think this is nonsense.
Firstly, ‘awareness’ about healthy eating is not confined to the upper classes. The society in which we live is obsessed with it. If you go into most schools, there will be some sort of healthy eating program for the pupils to follow; if your waiting in the doctors surgery you will read the posters about the necessary ‘5-a-day’; we even have TV advertisements, in the form of friendly cartoons, encouraging the whole family to eating healthy and do more exercise. Last time I checked, people from all social classes watch TV and go into public places, so why would we assume that they are unaware of all this propaganda about healthy eating? It seems a bit silly, don’t you think?
Secondly, I challenge anyone to disagree with me on the fact that the healthiest foods are very often the fresh ones, which are prepared from raw products. Preparing a meal from scratch, using fresh produce will generally speaking always be cheaper and healthier than buying it as a ready-made product in a chilled or frozen format. So if convenience food is more expensive than home cooked nutritional food, it doesn’t make sense that wealthier people have an advantage in eating healthily, because the healthy way is (generally speaking) the cheaper way.
The ways in which we can make our lifestyles and eating habits more healthy, are promoted to us in many different ways. We don’t need to have completed third level education to know that it’s better for us to have salad for lunch than a Big Mac or a banana rather than a mars bar! Forgive me for using such obvious examples, but I am trying to make a point. Common sense is a major influence when we are choosing what to eat and how much exercise we should be doing, it doesn’t always require a specialist education or the advice of a dietitian (of course there is no harm in using these) Being on maternity leave, I can honestly say that being able to prepare fresh meals everyday has been cheaper and tastier than supermarket prepared meals that cost a fortune and don’t fill the house with the smell of home cooking 🙂