Nutrition and poverty : the case of lone-parent households in the U.K.
This thesis examines the relationship between nutrition and poverty through a British case study, drawing on historical material and recent national and international experience of the policy agenda for nutrition. It has two main objectives. First, to investigate nutritional conditions in low income households in contemporary Britain by means of a survey in a group known to be poor, namely lone-parent families. The survey addressed whether there is evidence of nutritional deprivation, and, if so, who suffers it, and to what extent it is attributable to poverty, rather than lack of motivation or skills. Secondly, to contribute to contemporary debate about poverty and potential policy responses, particularly where food is concerned. A random cross-sectional survey of 200 lone-parent households in Greater London was carried out. Nutrition data were obtained from individual 3-day food intake records, for each parent and at least one of their children, and from a food frequency questionnaire. Three sets of nutrition outcome indicators were derived. Household budgeting and management techniques in relation to food and health were investigated by taped, semi-structured interviews. The association between income, other sociodemographic factors and support networks, and dietary patterns and nutritional risk were examined. The survey showed that however diligent and skilled the poorest lone parents were in budgeting and food shopping, their nutrient intakes were always lower, and their dietary patterns less healthy, than those who were not poor. Children's diets were less affected. Many parents, despite their straitened economic circumstances, nonetheless wanted, and actively sought, quality in their family's diets. The thesis concludes by reviewing how measures of nutritional deprivation, with its consequences for health and wellbeing, could contribute to defining and measuring poverty, and the potential for intervention at state and local levels to improve poor people's circumstances with regard to food.