Even economists reckon having no money makes you fat...

fat-kidsIt’s official. Even serious economists think that tightening our belts financially means we’ll have to let those belts out a few notches practically. The OECD* has been looking at its member countries, and their waistlines, and concluded that being skint does not make us skinny, and in fact, showed a link between economic crisis in developed countries and rising obesity levels.

Several OECD member countries were analysed and research showed that in some countries, the financial crisis triggered a reduction in spending on fruit and vegetables, an increase in the calories of the food purchased, and that families in economic distress are a fifth more likely to become obese.

In its June obesity report, the OECD said : "In 2008, the world economy entered one of the most severe crises ever. Many families, especially in the hardest hit countries, have been forced to cut their food expenditures, and tighter food budgets have provided incentives for consumers to switch to lower-priced and less healthy foods.”

"In summary, the evidence of a possible impact of the economic crisis on obesity points rather consistently to a likely increase in body weight and obesity," the report finished.

But while most people in the 34 OECD countries are classified as at least overweight, including one in five children, is it really true that bad food is cheaper than good food? We all know that Kerry Katona goes to Iceland for processed meat products every time she’s a bit short, but surely a banana is cheaper than buying a chocolate bar? A bag of potatoes costs the same as a bag of chips but can feed more people? Isn’t blaming the economic crisis a bit, well, lazy?

Note that the OECD does not claim causality- it does not say being poor makes you fat, it just demonstrates evidence of a link between the two. Perhaps those suffering from the financial crisis are so worried by their lack of money that they are unable to remember the difference between a kebab and a cucumber, and therein lies the problem.

Nevertheless, this report will no doubt excite the fat tax campaigners, who either want a tax on fat or on sugar, without realising that this type of tax will only affect those with the least money, who are apparently eating the most crap, leaving them even less money to spend on food.

Or perhaps that’s the plan. Starve them…

*Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In case you care.

1 comment

  • Alex B.
    Or, poor impulse control results in overly-steep discounting of the future, which in turn results in both spending money today that you can't afford long-term, and eating food today that will cause your health to suffer long-term.

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