rationing and under-nourishment

I was listening to Radio Mersyside, last night. It was one of those “ do you remember when?” forums.

This one was predicated on the latest bit of political nonsense about there being an obesity epidemic (what a horrible abuse of the word “epidemic”! ) and how we were all healthier under wartime rationing.

Total, arrant nonsense.

One pundit, even refuted the observed truth that we were undernourished by trying to claim that children , brought up during the War, were taller than Today.

My generation, of “Baby Boomers” , were taller than my Dad’s generation, who fought the War: They having being brought up during The Depression. My son’s generation and those born since the early 70’s have more six-footers than this country has seen since the GI’s came over in WWII (the Yanks had eaten well, even during The Depression). We weren’t just skinnier, during the War, we were too skinny, with organ damage,  caused by lack of protein. This would have been compounded by stress and vitamin deficiency issues.

Remember we didn’t end rationing until 1954 (6 years after the Germans ended rationing, thanks to our Special Relationship with America) . Until then we had been eating such wonderful commodities as Margarine. This does not contain Vitamin D, as does butter, and Rickets was a problem. Margarine didn’t have Vitamin D added, until after Windrush, when it was found that Caribbean kids weren’t getting enough sunlight to produce their own Vitamin D. Margarine also became yellow like butter, with the addition of carotene to provide Vitamin A, whilst white bread now has Calcium added ( in the form of bags of cement, I read somewhere).

A final note: The best evidence of the relationship between height and nutrition can be found by a combination of  looking at articles on how the minimum height for recruits was dropped from 5’4” to 5’0” , during the Boer War, with a visit to the H.M.S. Victory , or the nearby sailors’ cottages, in Portsmouth.                                  (

Even back in the early days of TV, the Upper classes often spoke of “getting a little man in”, when referring to working class tradesmen, who were, of course, under-nourished, as children.

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