Contrary to the musings of Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times there is a cause and effect going on over the placings of fast food restaurants or outlets in British towns. The provision of burnt chicken and maybemeatburgers to the hoi polloi is a hugely competitive business. This means that it is also low margin. So, where do you put the places that are in a low margin line of business?:
A new study from Oxford and Hong Kong universities suggests people who live in areas with a high density of fast food restaurants are 11% more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes. A kind of cause and effect is implied. As if the people living near 26 outlets that all have the word “chicken” in their names were being actively preyed upon by these caterers.
Perhaps pursuing them down the street, ramming burgers into their defenceless mouths and cackling as their guts expanded by the minute. It’s a false correlation of course. There is no cause and effect. Fast food restaurants tend to be at their densest in areas of low income.
It’s poverty that leads, somewhere down the line, to chronic illnesses, not living in between Hanif’s Halal Botuloburger bar and grill and Aunt Jemima’s Deep Fried Finger Lickin’ Blind Beakless Alien Creatures in a Bap Shack.
It’s not even true that poverty does lead to illness even though we can all think of times and circumstances when it does. To think that it is poverty only that causes illness is to make the Michael Marmot mistake. Sadly, given that he’s the national expert on the subject, a mistake that seems ensconced in the body politic. For it is also – equally obviously – true that illness can lead to poverty. That incapacitating heart disease that strikes you at 40 isn’t going to lead to you being wealthy at 50 now, is it?
However, this is about clustering of those nosh joints. Why are they in the poor areas? Well, for the same reason the poor are in the poor areas. They’re cheap. This being rather the defining point about poor people, they look for cheap places to live. The two are therefore synonymous, poor and cheap. And what is it we’ve just said about nosh? That it’s a low margin business. Therefore purveyors of the deep fried and battered saveloy – that joy of the ages – are going to be clustered in the poor part of town where they can afford the rents.
And that’s our cause and effect. Some poor people are poor because they’re, or have been, ill. They’re in the cheap part of town because they’re poor. Fried gut shops are in poor areas because they don’t make much money therefore they’re in the poor part of town. Absolutely any analysis of the phenomenon which doesn’t account for this is wrong. And no analysis done by anyone does take account of it – therefore all current analyses of the point are indeed wrong.