Having enough to eat of a decent quality and quantity has long been a central expectation of what it means to live in a Western country. But today food poverty is a major social and moral concern in Britain and some parts of Europe.

An audio recording of Rebecca O’Connell, Danny Dorling, and Hannah Lambie-Mumford, introduced by Liz Dowler, speaking on Food and Hard Times in Three European Countries, University College London, London, April 30th 2019

 

Families and Food in Hard Times, is a European Research Council funded study that presents key findings concerning these questions:
• What is the relationship between economic inequality and diet in the UK and other parts of Europe?
• Which types of families are going without enough decent food in different European countries?
• What are the consequences of food poverty for children and families?
• Where do the state and charity figure in addressing food poverty and its causes?

Guest speaker: Professor Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography, University of Oxford. ‘Diet, exercise and economic inequality – why is Britain so bad at being European?’

Discussant: Dr Hannah Lambie-Mumford, Research Fellow at Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI), University of Sheffield.

Q&A chaired by Professor Elizabeth Dowler, Emeritus Professor of Food and Social Policy, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick.

 

Danny was talking on “Diet, exercise and economic Inequality – why is Britain so bad at being European?”

The UK is the country of Europe that consistently reports the highest rates of income inequality of any country on the continent. Along with Hungary it reports the worse rates of obesity. Car use, and pollution from cars is excessive, walking and cycling to work is low. As a result, the British get less exercise than most other Europeans. So what is it about Britain that has led to these differences? In the 1970s Britain has the second lowest rate of income inequality of any large country in Europe. Only Sweden was more equal. The population of the UK were generally thin and healthy. Life expectancy was rising rapidly, it has falling recently in the UK. No other country in Europe has falling life expectancy. And car use in the 1970s was low and rates of cycling and walking were high. Not everything was good, but something went very wrong after the 1970s.

 

‘A picture of Brighton beach in 1976, featured in the Guardian, appeared to show an alien race.’ Photograph: PA.