The Black report was carried out in 1980 and chaired by a man named Sir Douglas Black. Previous reports and research pointed out that lifestyle was a key identification of inequalities in health, the main source being the Acheson report. Although this identification was made, they also pointed out that it was one of many reasons for inequalities in health. The Black report aimed to outline and explain these remaining factors.
The factors were: “Artefact”, suggesting that class inequalities do not really exist. Social selection”, suggesting that people suffering from ill health will be given low paid jobs and therefore are situated lower in class structure. “Cultural behavioural”, suggesting that ill health is a result of the individual’s culture such as healthy lifestyle. And finally “Structural material”, blaming capitalism for the situation the individual is in. The two most important and convincing sectors of the Black report were cultural/behavioural and structural/material. These two approaches were taken very seriously and were researched in more depth after the Black report was published.
I will start by briefly explaining these two approaches. Firstly cultural/behavioural. As mentioned above, this approach suggests that ill health is a result of the individual’s culture. It usually specifies to a group of individuals in a society. These separate groups in society can then be compared to support this theory. For example, a group of people following a healthy lifestyle could be compared to a group of people not following a healthy lifestyle. The groups studied are often working classes. It’s the values the group hold that are more important than the class they are in.
These working class groups tend to smoke too much, drink too much, lack exercise, eat un-healthy foods and lack nutrients and vitamins. Oscar Lewis states that the working class groups are under the opinion of “instant gratification”. They know that smoking is bad for them but are still under the opinion to “live now”. The second is the structural/material approach. Out of the two approaches this is definitely the most convincing. Based upon Marxism and inequality it states that the individual is not at fault by their culture it’s the situation they find themselves in due to capitalism.
This approach blames the rich people. The rich people can gain from individuals working or the unemployment of individuals. Work itself can lead to ill health, for example less skilled workers are given manual jobs, which are often dangerous, working in industry or in factories. They don’t receive adequate pay, which could lead to stress within their family household. The jobs they are given fail to give the individual job satisfaction; this may lead to the individual feeling as though they are excluded from society.
With relation to the rich gaining from them they benefit from cheap labour receiving all the profit. The working class do these jobs out of necessity, they don’t have a choice. With relation to unemployment, the rich can again gain from offering unemployed people low paid jobs. The aim of this essay is to see how relevant the Black report is today. To study this I am going to look at the material of obesity and how well it relates or doesn’t relate at all to the Black report of 1980-1981. Is it outdated?
Does it show relevance towards obesity? Obesity is a huge issue within society today. With increasing numbers of people suffering from obesity or indeed being over weight (7% 20 years ago and now 21%) there have also been an increasing number of people wanting to loose weight. This increase in people wanting to loose weight was a good chance for slimming/diet companies to make money. With 12million people on some variety of diet or slimming in order to loose weight, the diet companies made a huge profit of i??2billion last year.
Victoria Wood states that “being bigger makes you less of a person”, this is the attitude many over weight people tend to hold and also the attitude diet companies wish to consist, making their companies more money. If suddenly the opinion was to change, and being overweight was a good thing then these companies would fail to make money and would no long be successful. The reason for people becoming overweight is due to the lack of knowledge of what exactly a healthy lifestyle is. Healthy foods are rarely advertised.
Surely then these companies should be doing more to explain to us what we should be doing and not just aiming to make a profit, this however is not the case and never will be. During a trip to the Denby pottery workshop, Derby on Sunday 25th January, I listened in on a healthy eating talk. A group of around 40-50 surrounded me all listening to some lady trying to sell Sainsbury’s new “good for you” food. As I looked around the room I saw no, what I would regard as over weight people.
This shows and exemplifies Oscar Lewis’s opinion of “live now”, there was nothing stopping the overweight people attending this talk, but they all chose not too. Another fact worth mentioning is the failure rate of people dieting. 95% of people trying to loose weight never do! Dieting companies need to address this fact and consider why in fact people using their products are not successful in their targets and aims. Another huge reason for people becoming overweight is the change within society. All social occasions are now based around eating.
Going out for a meal, going to the cinema and eating snack foods, having dinner parties. Food has become a huge part of people’s life. With different varieties and types of food always popping onto our supermarket shelves Britain has become obsessed with food! Media representations also have a huge impact. Thin people intimidate and put constant pressure on overweight people. Meg Libefan, Hollywood casting director states that, “fat people are not appealing! ” Typical roles within media showing stereotypical views on how an individual should look are magazines, films and advertisements.
The latest example of an advertisement is for a car. A group of women are pulling out car keys from a bowl and the owner of that car, being from a group of men, has to sleep with the woman. When a hugely overweight woman goes to pick her key, all the men on the other side of the room stand up when they keys for the car being advertised are pulled out the bowl. This shows that all the men would be willing to sleep with this overweight woman just to show that the car is theirs! Although this could be seen as humorous, overweight people could easily be offended by it.
This un-healthy lifestyle is supported by the likes of “fast food” restaurants. With restaurants such as McDonalds, Burger King and KFC. Not only are these outlets selling food that is not good for you, high in fat and salt, they urge and persuade as best as possible for you, the customer, to have larger portions. Making your McDonalds meal a “super size” meal for as little as 20p! Leading to a profit for the business itself. They make money out of us becoming overweight. Another indication of the un-healthy lifestyle is the attitudes towards walking. Cars have since replaced our legs and individuals have become lazy.
Anything possibly worth making easier on the individual has been done, electric can openers, dishwashers, ready packed vegetables to name but a few. Now the subject of obesity has been discussed we need to consider how easily it can be related towards the two Black report approaches, Cultural/behavioural and Structural/material. I think that obesity is a strong result of individuals not wanting to lead a healthy lifestyle. My example of my trip to Denby shows that the facility of a talk on healthy foods was there and available to anyone wanting to use it but no over-weight people attended the talk.
You have to want to show interest and concern within your lifestyle to loose weight. The cultural/behavioural approach suggests that people do not follow a healthy lifestyle due to their values. This I think is true when relating this attitude to obesity. It’s our lack of motivation, our laziness and the convenience of everything that makes us how we are. It is definitely due to the culture and behaviour of us human beings that determines our health. One major criticism of this approach is that the upper class people also may lead an un-healthy lifestyle and are indeed over weight.
This shows that being unhealthy does not determine your place in social class. I also agree that the structural/material approach can be related well to obesity. The rich people are taking advantage of the people out their wanting to loose weight in the way that they can release products and diet schemes to supposedly help us, making i??2billion worth of profit! Although loosing weight is gaining health a lot of overweight people are happy with who and how they are, “fatness should not limit life”. This approach doesn’t however take into consideration the individuals that depend upon the Government and benefits.
With healthy food being expensive their benefits can only afford to buy them fatty un-healthy foods. There is however exceptions to all of the above discussed. As a whole, the Black report almost suggests that an un-healthy lifestyle leads to an individual becoming overweight this then leads to this individual being lower down in the social class resulting in them having low paid jobs. This is certainly not the case, obese people are and can still be successful and not in the lower classes. Three examples are: Victoria Wood, being a comedian and actor, Dawn French, also an actor and comedian and Yvette Freeman, actor in ER.