Another of Labour's policy ideas destroyed by facts

Labour have told us that the poor don’t have proper diets. That they need to be encouraged to eat better and that they have the solution to all of this by removing GST from fresh fruit and vegetables.

It sounds lovely, it sounds believable, but unfortunately some scientists have rained on Labour’s parade. Simple put the poor aren’t fat.

In both the popular press and academic research, there is the argument that the growth of fast food and energy-dense food has been an important cause of the overweight epidemic in the U.S. and that this has disproportionately affected poor people. [Some] argue that limited economic resources may shift dietary choices toward a diet that provides maximum calories at the least cost. An implication of this line of research is that the poor cannot afford healthy diets.

That is certainly Labour’s contention. But is it right?

Contrary to conventional wisdom, … the poor have never had a statistically significant higher prevalence of overweight status at any time in the last 35 years. Despite this empirical evidence, the view that the poor are less healthy in terms of excess accumulation of fat persists.

So it isn’t true.

Distribution-sensitive measures of overweight … [show] that the severity of overweight has been higher for the poor than the nonpoor throughout the last 35 years. … The strongest relationship between income and BMI is observed at the tails of the distribution. … For those at the tails of the BMI distribution, increases in income are correlated with healthier BMI values.

In plain english what that means is that there IS a co-relation between poverty and fat – both the very fattest and the very thinnest people tend to be poor, which then explains why we have an obesity epidemic amongst children and kids going to school hungry as well.

Quite how removing GST off fresh fruit and vegetables will solve that is another matter entirely. I’m assuming that Labour doesn’t have the answers but will employ an expert group to tell us otherwise.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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