Poor rural population had best diet and health in mid-Victorian years

March 8, 2018, SAGE Publications

Poor, rural societies retaining a more traditional lifestyle where high-quality foods were obtained locally enjoyed the best diet and health in mid-Victorian Britain. A new study, published in JRSM Open, examined the impact of regional diets on the health of the poor during mid-19th century Britain and compared it with mortality data over the same period.

The peasant-style culture of the rural poor in more isolated regions provided abundant locally produced cheap foodstuffs such as potatoes, vegetables, whole grains, milk and fish. These regions also showed the lowest rates, with fewer deaths from pulmonary tuberculosis, which is typically associated with better nutrition.

The study's author, Dr Peter Greaves, of the Leicester Cancer Research Centre, said: "The fact that these better fed regions of Britain also showed lower is entirely consistent with recent studies that have shown a decreased risk of death following improvement towards a higher Mediterranean dietary standard."

Dr Greaves explained: "The rural was often better for the poor in more isolated areas because of payment in kind, notably in grain, potatoes, meat, milk or small patches of land to grow vegetables or to keep animals."

"Unfortunately, these societies were in the process of disappearing under the pressure of urbanisation, commercial farming and migration. Such changes in Victorian society were forerunners of the dietary delocalisation that has occurred across the world, which has often led to a deterioration of diversity of locally produced food and reduced the quality of diet for poor rural populations."

Dr Greaves added: "Conversely, in much of rapidly urbanising Britain in the mid-19th century, improvements in living conditions, better transport links and access to a greater variety of imported foods eventually led to improved life expectancy for many of the urban poor."

Explore further: A more complete Mediterranean diet may protect against aggressive prostate cancer

Related Stories

A more complete Mediterranean diet may protect against aggressive prostate cancer

January 10, 2018
In a new study published in The Journal of Urology, researchers determined that men who followed a Mediterranean diet, rich in fish, boiled potatoes, whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, and olive oil, and low consumption of ...

Improving diet quality over time linked with reduced risk of premature death

July 12, 2017
People who improve the quality of their diets over time, eating more whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and fish and less red and processed meats and sugary beverages, may significantly reduce their risk of premature ...

Researcher finds healthy eating reduces risk of premature death

October 26, 2017
A recent study has shown for the first time that a small, simple improvement in diet over the long-term – such as replacing one sugary beverage with a serving of nuts each day—may significantly reduce the risk of premature ...

Mediterranean-style diets linked to better brain function in older adults

July 25, 2017
Eating foods included in two healthy diets—the Mediterranean or the MIND diet—is linked to a lower risk for memory difficulties in older adults, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics ...

Poverty, rural living linked to increased COPD mortality in the US

October 22, 2012
New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) underscores the widespread disparities associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) mortality by state, poverty level, and urban vs rural ...

Poor adolescent diet may influence brain and behavior in adulthood

June 19, 2017
Adolescent male mice fed a diet lacking omega-3 fatty acids show increased anxiety-like behavior and worse performance on a memory task in adulthood, according to new research published in The Journal of Neuroscience. The ...

Recommended for you

Accurate measurements of sodium intake confirm relationship with mortality

June 21, 2018
Eating foods high in salt is known to contribute to high blood pressure, but does that linear relationship extend to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death? Recent cohort studies have contested that relationship, ...

Fans of yoga therapy have yet to win over doctors

June 21, 2018
Yoga practitioners often tout the unique health benefits of the ancient discipline—from relieving stress and pain to improving vascular health—but most doctors remain sceptical in the absence of hard proof.

Fruit and vegetables linked to changes in skin colour, new research finds

June 21, 2018
Skin colour in young Caucasian men is strongly linked to high levels of fruit and vegetable consumption, new research by Curtin University has found.

What a pain: The iPad neck plagues women more

June 20, 2018
Is your iPad being a literal pain in the neck?

Medicaid work requirements and health savings accounts may impact people's coverage

June 20, 2018
Current experimental approaches in Medicaid programs—including requirements to pay premiums, contribute to health savings accounts, or to work—may lead to unintended consequences for patient coverage and access, such ...

Introduction of alcohol found to adversely impact fertility rates in hunter-gatherer community

June 19, 2018
Fernando Ramirez Rozzi, a research director with the French National Centre for Scientific Research has found that the introduction of alcohol to a Baka pygmy hunter-gatherer society caused fertility rates to fall. In his ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.