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1937: Pitiable plight of children says Cuckfield doctor

Updated: Mar 9, 2022

Families in rural Sussex with only 2s a week each for food are mentioned by Dr WB.Stott. Medical Officer of Health to the Cuckfield Rural District Council, in an account of a nutrition survey for his district.

‘Family budget forms were obtained from 204 families in three districts,’ he says, ‘and these were analysed as to the amount of income per week, the amount spent on rent and rates, fuel

and light, food, with numerous food items specified.’

When the 304 children of the parents who had completed the forms were examined by Dr R Ashleigh Glegg, County Medical Officer of Health and Dr Stott. It was found that 99 children were of sub-normal nutrition.

The proportion of underfed in groups with a certain expenditure on food per head were:

2s to 2s 11d … 40%

3s to 3s 11d … 33%

4s to 4s 11d … 40%

5s to 5s 11d … 25%

6s to 6s 11d … 33%

The British Medical Association has told that a man, his wife and child (1-2 years) need 13s 6d a week for food to maintain health and working capacity.

Interpreting the results Dr Stott suggests: 'On the whole, the amount of money available for food is related to the state of nutrition of the children. ‘Larger families spent more on rent than the smaller families.’

The Newcastle Sunday 4 Aug 1937.

Image: Poverty in Great Britain shortly before the First World War. Children photographed barefoot outside their home in a slum area of a British town. Courtesy of Imperial War Museum. Wikimedia public domain image. Colourised.

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.


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