With the spotlight on the Olympics and Team GB’s medal glory fading, the nation’s attention is brought back down to earth as problems on home soil once more come into view.
Despite Britain’s sporting success in Rio, closing comments on the games admitted that Lottery money invested in gaining podium places has not trickled down to growth in participation across the country as intended. Latest figures released by Sport England show
‘15.8 million people play sport or exercise at least once week a drop of 0.4% [8,700 people] since 2012’.
One could claim that such speculation is aptly timed as it falls in the same week that Theresa May faces increasing scrutiny on her recent plan to battle obesity in the UK – beckoning questions that are yet to be answered.
While figures indicate that the nation gradually appears to be swapping their trainers for slippers, the introduction of a sugar tax that merely invites the ‘bad guys’ of the food world to play along has sparked controversy. The lack of restrictions on supermarkets and restaurants means that the promotion of unhealthy food with slashed prices and bulk deals will continue much as it did before. So too will the advertising of products with high sugar, fat and salt content, which will face no barrier to securing prime time spots during family shows such as Britain’s Got Talent. Those who were hoping for more radical changes face a bitter (not sweet) disappointment.
In terms of the larger picture, May’s response to a problem which is affecting younger generations more than it ever has before and ‘costing the NHS almost 1bn pounds each week’ adds to the list of future challenges that she is likely to face as Prime Minister.
As those on lower incomes are more likely to suffer from obesity, now is the time for May to back her pledge to tackle inequality between the classes.
In terms of how our society has managed to reach this stage – where healthy food is available to all, yet not necessarily accessible – leads one to question where it all went wrong and will it ever get better?
The fascinating ‘Our Buried Bones’ exhibition in Glasgow offers a unique comparison between the skeletons of two women of different classes, who lived over 1,000 miles away from one another and died over 1,000 years apart, yet both suffered from a poor diet and ill health. The Guardian commented on the surprising similarities as, despite one skeleton belonging to a pauper of 19th century London and the other possibly linked to royalty of 700AD Scotland, bones belonging to both women show ‘shockingly worn and decayed teeth, and bone conditions related to dietary deficiencies’.
Where once social standing did not necessarily guarantee a healthier life, that is no longer the case in 21st century Britain. So, in true Trajectory style – what of the future? Unfortunately, as inequality between the classes continues to rise (with little hope of change any time soon), access to nutritional food and information will remain a challenge. However, we also know, as our recent breakfast on Generation Z showed, that younger cohorts are (overall) healthier than ever before and crucially, more willing to pay a premium for healthy food.
This desire may come to nothing if healthy food is not more accessible to those for whom it is currently out of reach. In the meantime, it is possible that Team GB’s success can counter this with an overdue response of more sport participation, but only time will tell if #GetInspired will ever start trending on, and more importantly, offline.