London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Bethnal Green 1937

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Bethnal Green Borough]

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Medical Association's Nutrition scales were explicitly published
as minima and not as desirable standards. When comparison
is made with the optimum, i.e., more adequate standard laid down
ill Sir John Orr's report on " Food, Health and Income " the
deficiency in the food supply of the poorer Bethnal Green families
appears in even greater seriousness.

The full extent of the comparison of the Bethnal Green figures with those of a "diet adequate for full health" in Sir John Orr's report on "Food, Health and Income" will be seen in the accompanying table :

Bethnal Green enquiry, per head* d.Sir J. Orr's "Diet adequate for full health," per head* d.
Meat (including bacon and ham)12.231.8
Bread, flour, cakes10.113.8
Jam, syrup, etc.91.9
Butter and Cream.96.8
Dripping, lard, suet.72.2
Milk, fresh2.410.2
Milk, condensed, dried1.51.0
49.9 = 4/2120.0 = 10/-
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♦The food expenditure figures in Sir John Orr's report have been calculated per head. In this
table, the Bethnal Green figures have been re-calculated on this basis for purpose of comparison.
The serious inadequacy of the Bethnal Green diet is seen in
every item, but is specially glaring in precisely those "fresh"
foods (such as butter, milk and fruit) which modern scientific
investigation has shown to be so important for sound nutrition
and growth. Even in the carbohydrate foods, to which the poor
resort because of their cheapness as a substitute for the dearer
protein and protective foodstuffs, the poorer Bethnal Green
families do not get a sufficiency for a good standard of health.

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