Poor diet, financial insecurity, and falling standards of living are factors that contribute to the rising incidence of Victorian-era diseases — such as gout, rickets, scarlet fever, and syphilis — in modern-day Great Britain.
The U.K. Faculty of Public Health (FPH) stressed that poor wage growth and persistent inflation has greatly affected nutrition intake among poorer families in the U.K. This proves true in the case of obesity, as the condition remains to be the biggest food poverty issue. According to the FPH, poorer families were forced to opt for cheaper, mostly processed foods in place of nutritious foods.
Clinicians and hospitals noted an increasing number of children suffering from diet-related diseases, which was a result of limited access to healthy foods. Health experts also observed a 19% increase in the number of people hospitalized for malnutrition during the previous 12 months. (RELATED: Explore more news about disease prevention at Prevention.news.)
“It’s getting worse because people can’t afford good quality food. Malnutrition, rickets and other manifestations of extreme poor diet are becoming apparent. The vitamin deficiency states of gout, malnutrition being seen in hospital admission statistics are extreme manifestations of specific dietary deficiencies or excesses, but they are markers of a national diet which is poor. Food prices up 12%, fuel prices up double-figure percentages and wages down is a toxic combination, forcing more people to eat unhealthily,” FPH official Dr. John Middleton said.
“That is the bit people dont really appreciate – a processed meal from a supermarket will need less feeding the meter as of course will a fast food take out. Poor people are having to pay out more of their income on food compared to the better off. There are difficult choices for people on low income,” Dr. Middleton added.
Victorian era disorders resurface centuries later
Hospital admission for various Victorian era disorders such as rickets and gout were on the rise during the previous years.
Rickets is a bone disease caused by vitamin D deficiency. Patients with rickets exhibit brittle bones and deformities. Recent data from Public Health England showed that the number of rickets cases in the U.K. rose from 675 during the 2009-2010 period to 937 during the 2015-2016 period. The Resolution Foundation announced in January that rising food prices greatly contribute to the increase in rickets rates as poorer people can barely afford nutritious foods to keep the condition at bay. The use of stronger sunblock in fear of developing skin cancer was also a culprit in this increase, the think tank claimed.
The latest figures from Public Health England also revealed that cases of gout among British adults increased from 6,908 during the 2009/2010 period to 9,708 during the 2015/2016 period. This equates to a 41% increase in gout incidence during the previous eight years. Once widespread during the 1800s, today’s higher gout incidence was largely due in part to the current obesity epidemic and an aging population, the U.K. Gout Society said.
Scarlet fever showed the most prominent increase over the years. Recent data showed that scarlet fever rates increased by 198% since the 2009/2010 period. Scarlet fever is an extremely contagious disease that trigger sore throat, rash, and fever. The condition may also lead to pneumonia if not treated. Scarlet was once deemed as a death sentence during the Victorian-era Britain.
The cases of syphilis nearly doubled in the past eight years, according to the Public Health England report. Data revealed that syphilis cases jumped from 2,646 during the 2009/2010 period to 5,217 during the 2015/2016 period. The increasing number of adults engaging in unprotected sex was the primary culprit for the significant rise in syphilis cases, health experts said.
Public Health England said the diseases were monitored to gain a better understanding of how they were being transmitted, and therefore control transmission. The findings have been filed to the NHS and local authorities.