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​Poverty Could Bring The Return Of Victorian Diseases And Illnesses Like Rickets

​Poverty Could Bring The Return Of Victorian Diseases And Illnesses Like Rickets

According to health experts, doctors have seen a recent resurgence in rickets – a disease that is caused by a lack of vitamin D or calcium.

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman

You thought that afflictions like rickets and stunted growth was a thing of the 'olden days'. But according to health experts, such Victorian scourges are still rife thanks to poverty and children not getting enough nutrition.

Dr Ellie Cannon, a GP in South Hampstead, took to Twitter to reveal how, whenever patients come into the surgery complaining of unexplained illness or fatigue, doctors actually have to ask patients if they can afford to eat.

That tweet soon went viral, was even addressed in the House of Commons during a food poverty debate.

Now Cannon says that in recent years, doctors have seen a resurgence in rickets - a disease that is caused by a lack of vitamin D or calcium, where bones become soft and weak. It can lead not only to fragile bones, tooth decay and pain, but also poor growth and even deformities.

She says that the number of children suffering from debilitating fatigue has also risen.

"We have an option to prescribe food through the NHS - that is how bad the situation is," Cannon told the Independent. "I work on a social housing estate. I have patients who use a food bank.

She also explained how her original tweet was inspired by a mum who went without just so she could feed her kids.

"The family who prompted the tweet was a family where a mother drank tea all day in order to feed her kids. We see children who are not growing to their potential.

"It is a sad state of affairs in 2017," she added, "especially when we see trends show wealthy children are getting stronger."

Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad, whose borough is where the Grenfell fire occurred, said children in the area were recently diagnosed with rickets - despite it being one of the wealthiest parts of the capital.

"It is absolutely shocking," she told the Independent. "There was a time in the 70s when British people as an average were tall and fit. Over time [poor] people have become less well nourished."

Credit: PA

Professor Russell Viner, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, has also said that many people don't understand how poverty, wealth, obesity and malnutrition interlink - and that diseases caused by malnutrition are an even bigger problem among children who appear overweight.

That's because this group is at an increased risk of heart disease, along with diabetes and poor mental health, including eating disorders.

"Under-nutrition affects health, wellbeing and mental health," he said. "Obesity affects around nine percent of children in reception, 19 percent by year six.

"We need people to understand that funny relationship where extreme poverty still means underweight, but poverty in the modern world mostly links with obesity.

"We have the bizarre situation of obese children going hungry. When they do get food it is high-fat, high-sugar, often too many calories."

Want to help do something about it? Donate food to your nearest food bank - try searching for one via the Trussel Trust here.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Food, UK News, News, Grenfell Tower