Outrage at Broxtowe MP Anna Soubry's comments about the poor and the fat
MPs and residents have hit back after Health Minister Anna Soubry suggested you can tell a person's background from their weight.
The Tory MP for Broxtowe's comments were reported in a national newspaper as she referred to obesity in deprived areas as a "heartbreaking fact" and identified junk food as part of the problem.
Ms Soubry has recently launched the Be Food Smart campaign, which seeks to expose the "hidden nasties" – particularly sugar, salt and fat – in everyday foods.
But Chris Leslie, Labour MP for Nottingham East, said: "I don't think it's right to say you can tell who is poor or deprived by looking at them.
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"A lot of people will have been taken aback by the stark nature of her comments."
He added: "While it is true that obesity does tend to affect those who are more deprived in society, we have to be very careful of overstepping a line and making quite sweeping generalisations or statements that might seem prejudiced against certain groups in society.
"I'm left wondering what exactly Government policy is? Is it simply to lecture people who are less well off to try harder?"
Lillian Greenwood, Labour MP for Nottingham South, said: "These comments will be seen as insensitive by many people in Nottingham, and especially by people who are increasingly reliant on food banks to get by.
"Of course there is a known link between poverty and obesity.
But this Government is making the problem worse by removing nutritional standards from our schools and failing to act on high salt and sugar levels in food."
Ms Soubry was reported in the Daily Telegraph as saying she could almost tell the background of a person by their weight.
She added: "Obviously, not everybody who is overweight comes from deprived backgrounds but that's where the propensity lies."
The MP said it was "heartbreaking" that some of the most deprived people were not getting the right nutrition, but that it was mainly down to an abundance of bad food.
Matt Goold, of Meadow Lane, Beeston said the comments were "ridiculous".
The 39-year-old added: "How does she know this? It's just a stereotypical assumption. It's absolute rubbish.
"She says people don't sit around the table – a lot of people cant afford a table for a start."
Richard Oldham, 40, of Field Lane, Beeston said the comments were "nonsensical", adding: "It is difficult to eat well on low money."
The Post contacted Anna Soubry to speak about the issue but did not hear back.