Poor rural Victorians 'had best diet'

From BBC - March 8, 2018

Poor, rural societies which ate high-quality foods bought locally had the best diet and health in mid-Victorian Britain, a new report has revealed.

The healthiest regions, measured by low mortality rates, were often the most isolated.

In those areas, people would have consumed plenty of locally-produced potatoes, whole grains, vegetables, fish and milk.

There were also fewer deaths there from pulmonary tuberculosis.

This suggests people had better diets, the researchers writing in JRSM Open suggest.

They found the most nutritious diets were enjoyed in isolated, rural areas of England, the mainland and islands of Scotland and the west of Ireland - which was at that time part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

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

"The rural diet 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."

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