Let them eat cake? Not in Salford, NHS-funded study suggests
BARELY ONE third of the men in the strictly Orthodox Salford community take the nationally recommended level of exercise, a health study has found.
Provisional results of an NHS-funded survey show that 36.5 per cent of male respondents enagage in physical activity for at least two-and-a-half hours per week. The figure among the general male UK population is 67 per cent.
The findings raise a number of exercise, nutritional and disease prevention concerns for the area’s 7,500 Jews. For example, more than one-in-eight parents have not had their children immunised and were unlikely to do so.
“We have a massive lack of awareness regarding the importance of exercise,” said Jewish Care Forum chair Jonny Wineberg, who ran the survey with psychologist Dr Sandi Mann. “It’s just not embedded in the community. The age groups who don’t understand it most are the youngest and oldest, which is bizarre.
“The fact we’ve got this lack of understanding among young people means we have to embed it much earlier and question what’s being taught at schools.”
Close on 5 per cent of those surveyed said they would definitely not immunise their children. One-in-five parents felt they had insufficient information about immunisation.
Mr Wineberg said that this attitude brought “a whole range of risks. It’s MMR we’re talking about — rubella, measles and mumps — diseases that should be gone.
“The possibility of someone contracting one of those diseases and it spreading across the community is horrible. It’s more likely, of course, if people aren’t immunised.”
He wanted to see “a very strong marketing campaign about immunisations”. The survey had highlighted “myths” about vaccines from parents who were “not interested in any sort of facts”.
One parent had claimed that “the cocktail jabs are too much to deal with for a small child’s body”. Another had expressed the baseless fear that “six weeks is too early to immunise kids”.
Another finding was that 54 per cent of Salford Jews eat cake at least once a day. “To not understand that cake, with its fat and high sugar content, is not a food to be having every day is really bad,” Mr Wineberg said.
The community needed “to do more work around healthy eating. Give your kids a satsuma as a treat, not a Mars bar.”
Nava Kestenbaum, director of the north-west branch of Orthodox charity Interlink, said the low exercise levels among men did not surprise her.
But she pointed out that “their life- style is not considered so unhealthy regarding the level of alcohol or fast food consumption. Those are very low, so there are mitigating factors.”
Was cake consumption best practice? “Maybe not, but changing cultural norms takes time, especially as Jewish mothers like to bake for their family.”
As a former public health adviser to NHS Salford, her personal view was that “the concept of community immunity is very important”. Yet there was “always room for individuals to have an objection to health plans”.
The provisional results were revealed at Sunday’s Manchester Jewish Representative Council meeting. The full survey will be released shortly.
There were concerns about levels of exercise among men